Plymouth Schoolhouse Exhibit
Immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and the popular television series, the iconic one-room schoolhouse remains closely identified with the United States’ rural past. However, the depopulation of Great Plains states over the past century, coupled with reclamation projects by rural landowners, have resulted in the abandonment and subsequent destruction of many of those buildings where preceding generations received their education and where community bonds were forged. In the post-rock country of Northcentral Kansas, similar circumstances threatened the rural schoolhouses constructed from stone quarried from local limestone beds. The Plymouth Schoolhouse Exhibit traces how one such schoolhouse located in rural Russell County was saved from demolition, restored, and became a permanent fixture on the campus of an institution long-associated with educating the denizens of the Great Plains: Fort Hays State University. Further, the exhibit celebrates the Plymouth School’s history and honors the efforts of the individuals who preserved this symbol of regional heritage.
Incorporating original documents and photographs from university archives and materials donated to Forsyth Library by the estate of a former Plymouth student, Loretta (nee Hirt) Doubrava, the exhibit is organized chronologically into six sections: Why a Schoolhouse? briefly examines the one-room schoolhouses’ centrality to the originally mission of FHSU’s earliest incarnation as a normal school and the circumstances that initially prompted the restoration project; The Selection Process & Decision details the “Stone Schoolhouse Committee’s” formation, their efforts to identify buildings suitable for preservation, the resolution of financial and logistical issues, and the committee’s final selection of the Plymouth Schoolhouse; The Plymouth Schoolhouse History (1874-1936) explores the school’s founding and construction, Plymouth students’ traditional curriculum and recreation, and the school’s function as a hub of community activities as reconstructed by Mrs. Doubrava; as its title suggests, section 4 describes the Dismantling and Restoration of the Schoolhouse; section 5 describes the 1979 Dedication that commemorated the completed restoration and relocation of the school to the Fort Hays State campus; finally, section 6, The Schoolhouse to the Present, highlights the 1994 rededication ceremony as well as the College of Education’s continuing stewardship of the Plymouth School and its living history program.
For first-time visitors, each section can be viewed by selecting the tab above entitled "Browse Exhibits."
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Exterior photo (black & white) of the front of the schoolhouse with landmark sign in front; FHSU Campus, Hays, Kansas.
Color photo of the front of the schoolhouse with landmark sign in front of the entrance, FHSU Campus, Hays, KS.
Interior view of Plymouth Schoolhouse on FHSU Campus, Hays, KS.