Room for Learning, Part 2


Here are some glimpses from inside the Collins Schoolhouse on SR 120 in northeastern Indiana.  After being used from 1877 to 1943, it stood vacant for 20 years.  Then June Collins began its restoration.


More desks fill the room now than when it was operating, to accomodate the number of students who come on tours.  Miss Collins’s nieces and nephews say there used to be an open space between the two sides, where activities and games took place.


“It’s not the books that are on the shelves, but what the teachers are, themselves,” according to an old poem.  Visitors here see an array of vintage books.


The original Google: a large dictionary sat on a stand for students to reference.


Hornbooks, which preceded textbooks, displayed the alphabet and the Lord’s Prayer.  They were covered with a thin layer of cow horn to protect the surface.


The school’s weathervane now overlooks its interior.


The daily schedule was all about reading!



You could get a drink of water from the stoneware cooler, or lunch from your tin pail.  For the other kind of break, the privy was out back and remains there, still fully functional.


Photo of students in first through eighth grades in the school’s heyday.


A complete record of teachers of the school is posted on a wall.


Miss Collins hit the nail on the head.  Thank a teacher for where you are today!


The Collins School is open to the public on Sundays 2 to 5 p.m. during the summer beginning June 5.  A traditional ice cream social will take place there on July 31.

Room for Learning, Part 1


In the last half of the Nineteenth Century and beginning of the Twentieth, many pupils were educated in a one-room building where eight grades all learned together.  For some it was the place their school days began and ended.


While some of the iconic structures have been torn down and others repurposed as homes or businesses, a few have been made into living history museums.  The Collins School in Steuben County is one.  It rests in a green grove of trees, across from a cornfield on State Road 120.


The brick schoolhouse was built in 1877.  It succeeded a log structure which remained on the property for many years.


To whom do we owe gratitude for its restoration?  Well, it was someone I think would be proud I used the object pronoun in that last sentence.  Her name was June Collins.  Miss Collins’s family owns the property on which the school sits.

She was a pupil here and a teacher here, at the beginning of her long career in 1939.  She moved on to work in town schools with multiple rooms (including my sister’s second grade class).  When the old building was auctioned, Miss Collins bought it, and with the help of family, colleagues, and former charges, fixed it up.  She lovingly filled it with artifacts from days gone by.


June Collins herself was its first tour guide.  Today her great-nieces and nephews carry on, during June, July, and August on Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m.  Next week I’ll show you what this room for learning offers visitors who continue to climb its worn steps.