School House

Old Cowtown Museum Tour

School House

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Old Cowtown Museum


The One Room School, located in the Residential Area of Old Cowtown Museum represents the residential community’s educational institutions of Wichita during the 1870s. While this one-room schoolhouse is not typical of Wichita schools and represents of the many one-room schools throughout rural America during the period, it provides the opportunity to address education in the growing town.

The first classes in Wichita were held by William Finn in an abandoned sod dugout. Finn charged a subscription rate of one dollar per pupil. That school was in session only for the 1869-1870 winter term.

In 1871, Wichita passed a school bond issue allocating $5,000 for a wood-frame building. James R. Mead donated land for the new permanent school.​

Throughout the 1870s, Wichita’s school system was inadequate to meet the demands of an expanding urban population. Rather than build new, several additions were built on exisiting buildings. At times they used the second floor of some of the business, but parents complained there were inadequate outhouses and the street noise and dust made learning impossible. Schools in the 1870s had underpaid teachers, limited supplies, and inadequate and poorly equipped space. City leaders believed that taxation for better schools would have negative effect on the development of business in Wichita.

The orginal school built in 1871 burned in 1879 and a new brick school was finally built. By then Wichita had its first high school graduation of 4 students.

The Old Cowtown Museum schoolhouse was built in Wichita circa 1910 and used as a temporary school room for several years. When it was no longer used for classes, local donors furnished the building with period desks, books, and maps to create a country school museum in time for the Kansas Centennial of 1961.

Following the celebration, the school board donated it to Old Cowtown Museum in1962 so that it would be accessable to the public.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour


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