1910 Lynn School in Garfield County, Washington

Copyright Robin Flint

Copyright Robin Flint

This week Lost Places travels to the northwestern United States–Washington State, to be exact–courtesy of photographer Robin Flint.  This is the 1910 Lynn School, located just off East Lynn Road near the Central Ferry crossing of the Snake River.  Flint writes: “My favorite photo subjects are abandoned vehicles and houses in rural settings. Ghost towns are great, but locations like this one are preferred since they are generally miles from other attractions and I don’t have to wait for anyone to get out of my shot.”

Garfield County sits in southeastern Washington, in a region of fertile hills and prairies north of the Snake River known as the Palouse.  The Palouse region underwent a settlement boom in the 1880’s.  Now, Garfield County is Washington’s most sparsely populated county with just 3.2 inhabitants per square mile, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The 2010 population was 2,266.  The population was almost double in 1910, during the heyday of the one room schoolhouse.

One room schoolhouses were based on a British system developed in the 1790’s called the “Bell-Lancaster Method.”  Under this system, students of all ages were grouped together.  Students who were able would help the teacher with tasks such as cleaning erasers and bringing coal and water into the school.  Older pupils would also pass on their knowledge to younger students.

Horace Mann began advocating for reform in the mid-1800’s.  Mann, appointed as Massachusetts Secretary of Education in 1837, stressed the importance of universal education to create a strong base of educated citizens for the fledgling U.S. republic.  He used as his basis a model not from a republic, but from a kingdom.  The Kingdom of Prussia, which consisted of parts of present-day Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Denmark, Belgium, and the Czech Republic.  Prussia had introduced an eight-year, tax-funded, compulsory course of education in the early 19th Century.  Mann’s reforms worked.  By the time the 1910 Lynn School was operational, 72 percent of U.S. children attended school.  Half of those students did so in one-room schools.

By the 1920’s, motorized school buses allowed students to travel longer distances to school.  Albert L. Luce, a Ford dealer from Georgia, produce a bus body for a Ford Model T.  Luce would go on to create the Bluebird, the first iron bus design.  The increase in safety and distance made  consolidation inevitable.  By the 1940’s, one-room schools had been replaced in all but the most remote rural areas.

One-room schools are not extinct in the U.S., though.  According to the One-Room Schoolhouse Center, 26 school are still in operation across the U.S.  Ones that still survive are often re-purposed as restaurants, private residences, shops, and lodging areas.  No word on what plans, if any, are in store for the 1910 Lynn School.  If anyone matriculates onto Lost Places and has any information, let us know.  We’re always interested in what happens to lost places–and we’re eager students.


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