Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to find some rural schoolhouses

Local history enthusiasts can take a 200- mile, six-hour driving tour and see most of the remaining one-room rural schools houses in Greene County, Missouri, thanks to a document produced by University of Missouri Extension.
The self-guided driving tour, available online at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene, provides detailed directions as well as a photo of each school and basic information about the structure.
The driving tour is an outgrowth of the popular book, "A History of Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo." written by David Burton, civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Greene County.
The book was completed in 2000, after four years of research. Copies of the book are available for $18 (plus $2 shipping and handling) from the University of Missouri Extension Center in Greene County, 833 Boonville, Springfield, Mo. 65802.
“I still get lots of inquiries from folks wanting to see some of the rural schools in this county,” said Burton. “This driving tour is the easiest way for folks to get to see most of the schools.”
Burton points out that the schools on the tour are in a variety of conditions. Some remain in use as community centers, while others have been converted into homes, barns and even businesses.
The first goal of the research project was to get the best buildings placed on the Greene County Historic Sites Register. The next goal was to get people interested in raising money and working to preserve those historically important buildings as part of community development.
“Thanks to organizations like the Country School Association of America, there is a growing interest in preserving these old schools,” said Burton. “The preservation of old school buildings has been popular on the eastern side of the United States. I’m hoping some of that enthusiasm, and money, moves to the Midwest, specifically Greene County, in the next few years.”
More information about the “Rural Schools of Greene County Project” is available at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene.

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