Saturday, July 23, 2016

Baker School in Grundy County Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

Baker School is one of three buildings that compose the Grundy County Museum campus in Trenton Mo.  This unimposing building stands alone as it represents all the 90 one-room schools that previously dotted Grundy County.  Baker School, the last one-room school to close in 1966, was relocated to its present location, 11th and Tinsman Avenue, in 1996 where it can be enjoyed and experienced by many people.

Baker School was named for Christian Baker, who came to Grundy County in 1862 and gave the land for the school.  Gladys McCarty was the first teacher in 1918 and Letha McClure was the last teacher in 1964.  The building was donated to the museum by Vern and Marian VanHoozer. John Rice, museum board member, chaired the School House Committee and coordinated the $12,334.00 budget to relocate the building. 

Moving Baker School was a challenging project.  Trickel Construction Company and Hinnen Hauling combined to move the building and place it on a new foundation.  The 9th Street bridge, a formidable obstacle, required the building to be cut in half for transport and then reassembled at the new location.  It was an interesting operation and a crowd assembled to see it pass over and through the 9th Street Bridge with inches of clearance.

Most people know someone who attended a one-room school, but don’t feel sorry for them because they “turned out” fine regardless of the lack of today’s typical school programs.  It was a different time and a different experience.   Contrary to the stories about walking five miles through snow….and it was up-hill both ways, most students didn’t travel more than a mile. 

·        The teacher taught grades 1-8 without a teaching helper, a principal, guidance counselor or custodian.

·        There was no cafeteria - everyone brought their own lunch.

·        There was no bussing program and everyone got there on their own.

·        There was no gym or athletic program.

·        The Library usually consisted of about 25 reference books.

·        The school was also community meeting place where plays and social events were held, for example, the Box Suppers.

·        Chalkboards and individual slates were used rather than computers and iPads.

·        The restroom was usually an outhouse separated from the school building.

Today, Baker School looks just like it did in 1996 however there are a few subtle changes, the building is air conditioned and you won’t have to bring in a scuttle of coal for the pot-bellied stove where the teacher sometimes cooked a kettle of soup for everyone.  It is a fun place to visit and learn about all the 90 one-room schools in Grundy County.  Serving as a repository of information about all the schools, you can read newspaper stories and see pictures of those schools and many of the students and teachers.


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