German One Room Schoolhouse
The oldest Amish one-room school house in the Nappanee area was acquired by Amish Acres in 2004 for relocation, preservation, and restoration. It sat less than a mile from the farm since it built in the 1880s. It is now used for interpretation to school groups. The school joins the original horse-drawn school bus that area children rode to and from the nearby Weldy township school. The building was never used as a graded school instead providing German instruction several afternoons a week following regular school in one of the nearby township schools. It has now been visited by several former students and a long time school master who found it restored as they remembered it.
The 20' by 44' structure features an entry way with boys and girls cloak rooms on either side of the front door. Lunch buckets were also kept in these rooms. A wood burning stove sat in the middle of the single school room where its stove pipe rose to a suspended brick chimney. Two rows of two-student desks were on either side of the stove. The girls sat on the left side facing the teacher, the boys on the right. Although remodeled, added onto and converted into a horse barn in its later years, original plaster walls and ceilings plus wood plank wainscot provide clues required for an authentic restoration of the building to be completed.
Numerous former students remember the interior layout and desk design so that recreation of the school is accurate. Ivan Hochstetler who has moved barns and log houses for Amish Acres over the decades attended German school there in 1935 for three years. He recalled a spelling bee was held in the evening once a week. The "black board" was simply the plastered wall painted black. The ceiling, side walls and wainscoting were all originally painted a light blue. Oil lamps hung from hooks in the ceiling to light the building in the evenings. The school was surrounded on three sides by a horizontal board fence. There was a coal and wood shed to the east of the school. Two outhouses were located south of the building. Ivan remembers that the school sponsored a spelling bee on Thursday nights for students and their families that included a pot luck supper.
During your guided tour, visit with the school marm. Visitors from every state in the US plus Canada, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, and Ukaraine signed a tablet last summer!
Class Act Old schoolhouse new at Amish Acres
South Bend Tribune
By Karen L. Harris
NAPPANEE, Indiana – In the past, visitors to Amish Acres in Nappanee were treated to an overview of Amish life. During the '04 summer, that experience became more complete with the addition of a restored one-room Amish schoolhouse.
According to Richard Pletcher, owner of Amish Acres, “The schoolhouse was in the master plan for Amish Acres since the beginning.”
As with all the attractions at Amish Acres, Pletcher insisted the schoolhouse be authentic. Therefore, he purchased a pre-1900s schoolhouse located on a farm less than a mile from Amish Acres and had the structure tore down and reassembled at the historic farm and attraction.
“There were actually three or four schoolhouses in the area that could have potentially worked for us,” Pletcher explained. “I had been trying to purchase this particular building for 25 years. Instead, it was turned into a horse stable. Typically, the Amish have little appreciation for the historical significance of a building. They take a more practical approach. They needed a place for their horses.”
After two years of pain-staking restoration and research, the schoolhouse is now open to the public. Visitors taking the farm tour at Amish Acres will make a stop at the schoolhouse via the farm wagon ride. Others can stroll over to it from the restaurant and gift shop area, enjoying the view of the pond in the process.
To ensure that the restoration of the schoolhouse was as accurate as possible, Pletcher enlisted the help of Ivan Hochstetler, an Amish neighbor who attended the school in the 1930s. “He remembers it vividly and was able to sketch how the desks and benches look and how the classroom was arranged, and even built a desk from his memory that he presented to us as a gift. It was replicated for the rest of the building” Pletcher said.
He continued, “The single most unique thing about this building is that it would have been the only public building the Amish owned. The Amish have no public churches. And this school would have been used exclusively to teach High German, not as a graded school.”
The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch in their homes and learn English in the public school systems. High German, however, is needed to read the Bible and to understand some church sermons. Amish school children would have attended public elementary school and attended the German school later in the afternoon.
Pletcher explained the differences in the Amish’s educational needs and the outside world. “In an Amish school, students are taught only the subjects they need to successfully run a farm,” he said. “There is no homework given because the teachers understand that the students have chores to do at home.”
The Amish also have a philosophy of leaving no child behind that pre-dates President Bush’s plan. The goal in an Amish school is for every child to succeed. Students do not compete with each other for an A. If one student is struggling, the other students help him catch up.
“Also in an Amish school, the parents are more actively involved,” Pletcher continued. “Parents commonly stop by the school, unannounced, several times a week. They may just want to observe or they may want to read to the students. In our schools today, the doors are locked to keep intruders out and if a parent stops by, it is typically because there is a problem to be resolved. Even then, they parents are asked to go straight to the office. This old schoolhouse certainly gives us an awfully lot to think about.”