It’s my understanding that there’s an outstanding stand-alone wooden schoolhouse still standing in the middle of St. Augustine’s historic district, that by today’s standards, stands to be the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America, notwithstanding the claims of contenders with similar standing, which stands to reason.
For instance, the Voorlezer House is an ancient clapboard-framed structure located in Staten Island’s historic Richmond Town. It was built in 1695 by Dutch settlers as a church, school and residence for the voorlezer (one whose semi-official duties included local law, education and religion). By virtue of its vintage, it gets high marks as the nation’s “oldest school house”.
However, naysayers may say its multi-purposefulness disqualifies its “oldest school house” credential, while other “arcaneologists” would point to percentages of original materials retained as the gold standard for proper certification.
Nevertheless, St. Augustine, by virtue of its “first city” status, arguably possesses a legitimate rite for rating rotting relics, and maintains that the honor of “oldest wooden school house” resides at 14 St. George Street.
At the very least, this much I know to be mostly true with questionable certainty:
Upon close inspection, the main building has been wrapped in a rusted iron chain since 1937 to keep it from blowing away in case of a hurricane. An anchor was added in 1939 for added insurance.
The one-room classroom was originally accessed from street level,
where stairs led to the School Master’s private residence one floor above.
Primitive behavior modification techniques took place under the stairs, in what became know as the school Dungeon,
where recalcitrant children found themselves quarantined for an assortment of offenses.
Yet despite the occasional unruly student, the clapboard walls around the room offered strong evidence of learning…
Located around the back,
the detached kitchen offered healthy school lunches…
…cultivated by kids…
…from garden to table.
Also in the schoolyard stands the rebuilt potty house–perfect for serious homework.
And when the last bell tolls and class is finally dismissed,
it’s reassuring to know that when kids learn their ABCs, regardless of schoolhouse pedigree, it can ultimately result in a lifetime love of learning.