ORIGINS

I grew up in a small Ohio town, and I rode the school bus from 1st through 12th grades. My bus ride always included a country road on which every school day we saw a one-room brick school house. (SW corner of Stine Rd and Enon-Xenia Pike). As the years went by, I watched this wonderful, familiar friend fall apart. After I married, the school really began to deteriorate. Every time we visited the area I would want to take a photo of the school, but never did. Finally, when we went specifically for the task, the school was gone. It was a huge loss for me and, since that time, whenever we pass a one-room school, it is a joy to stop to take a picture or two. Thus, our collection here, and the one with schools in other states. Jill :oD

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bennett’s Seven Schools

The following information has been gleaned from the book, “Bennett, Iowa and Inland Township: A History,” by Verl L. Lekwa, in cooperation with the Bennett Community Club, 1983.

On 31 January 1943, the brick city school in Bennett burned and was gutted; it had been built in 1911 to replace a two-story wood frame structure, and a gymnasium had been added in 1929.  A temporary break in school attendance took place as they decided what to do.  A major problem was lack of money to build a new school. 

The school had students from 1st through 11th grades.  Tipton offered to take the high school students, the 25 then being transported by bus.  The other grades met in the Bank basement, the Methodist church sanctuary, the Methodist church basement, the Lutheran church and the Evangelical church.

In July a vote was taken to consolidate the rural schools in the township (Inland Township), still without a building.  In the fall of the 1943-1944 school year, cement block foundations were built along Third street for moving four rural schools, which had consolidated, into town for use as classrooms.  The first one was placed at the NW corner of Third and Maple.  

At the same time, a 12th grade was added.  By 1946 three more rural buildings were moved along the row on Third Street.  The fall of 1948 was the first time the high school students did not go to Tipton.

For the 1949-1950 school year, students attended a new school which had been built west of town, and all seven rural schools were sold at auction.  Six remained in town, with five of those becoming homes, while another was moved downtown to house a business.  The seventh was moved east of town and made into a residence.

The rural schools which moved to Bennett were as follows:
#2  Marsh School.  Built in 1895, in was moved to Bennett in 1946.

#3  Center School.  Original building constructed ca.1860, replaced 1/4 mile away with a newer building in 1868, and in 1929 that one was razed and replace with a new building which had a basement and toilets.  This one was moved to Bennett in 1946.

#4  Shiloh School.  Originally built in 1867, but replaced in 1898.  It closed in 1937, and was moved to Bennett in 1943.  This was the one which moved downtown in 1949.  Possibly it has been moved again as one of the schools depicted below, because these six were verified as schools by homeowners we talked to.

#5  Unity School.  Was 3 miles SW of town, originally built in 1866 and replaced in 1924 with a basement and toilets.   Moved to Bennett in 1943, and is the one moved east of town for a house.

#7  Willow Shade School.  Originally built in 1869, but replaced in 1916.  Was moved to Bennett in 1943.

#8  Summit School.  Originally 3 miles SE of town, built in 1868.  Moved to Bennett in 1943.

#9  Smith School.  Built in 1885, closed in 1935, moved to Bennett in 1943.

The first photo is from the book, and shows the first school moving into town.  The second photo shows the school buildings lined up along Third St, with the anchor point being the NW corner of Third and Maple.
While I recognized the one building, on Maple St, from Bill Sherman’s book, "Iowa’s Country Schools: Landmarks of Learning,” the rest were confirmed by two homeowners we met in town.  However, we were not given the identities as to which school was which, so if anyone can give such information, we’d appreciate it.  

This first school is on the NW corner of Third St and Maple St.  The problem with this one being identified as one of the seven is that in the photo of the first school being brought into town, this one appears to be the house on the right side of the photo!  So if it was a school, as identified by the one homeowner, then it would have been moved into town prior to the seven in 1943 and 1946. 
These two schools have been joined for this house.  They are on the NW corner of Third St. and Poplar (I'm wondering if these are in the original location, and perhaps the schools were lined on Third from the one on Third and Maple to Third and Poplar. If anyone can clear this up, I'd appreciate it.)
This third school was on Maple Street, SE corner of Fourth. (Unfortunately, we forgot to photograph the south side because we ended up in a conversation with the owner!)
This next school is immediately south of the previous one, still on Maple St.  This looks like it is probably the first one moved into town, since there appears to be only one square one in the photo of the row.
This last school is the home of a woman we talked to at the bank.  She said it has had many additions, which is why it no longer resembles a school.  It is on the SW corner of Fourth and Poplar Sts.
Photographs taken on 11/27/13.

UPDATE, 6/6/15.   On 6/4/15, we drove highway 130 to Bennet and then east bound to Tipton.  This building was discovered on highway 130 on the east side of Bennet.  Unity School was supposedly moved east of town to be a house.  We found no other building east of town other than normal farm houses.  This building on the south side of the street was either a church or a school; does anyone have any information about it?  The taller windows make me wonder if it was a church.
Photographed on 4/4/15

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