Monday, June 27, 2011

Rapp Schoolhouse, Rapp Kansas

The Rapp Schoolhouse was first built in 1871. The original structure was wooden, measuring 18 feet by 26 feet. This brick structure was built in 1929, the year the Great Depression cast its grey pallor over the country. Farming communities such as Rapp felt the economic sting, but struggled on.

Rapp village is located along the historic Santa Fe Trail, Highway 56, at a distance of about 5 miles to the west of Osage City.. The Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks are to the east and south. At its height, the community of Rapp consisted of about a dozen homes, railroad crossing, produce station, general store, lumberyard, blacksmith ship and stockyard. A few homes are all that remain.

The cupola or belfry still has a bell and rope that summoned children for all 8 grades.Classes were generally from September through April with many absences for farm chores. Most of the children walked to school, but some of the children who lived at a distance would ride horses (Torsten Isaacson).The Osage County Superintendent of Schools administered an examination at the end of 8th grade to assess progress of the students.

"The first term was held in 1871 without a teacher. At the first annual meeting it was voted to have 3 months of school in the summer and four months of school in the winter. It was alsovoted to have a male teacher for winter months and a female teacher for summer months, at a salary of $30 per month. Male teachers were preferred for winter terms because it was thought that they alone could control the older farm boys who attended school only during the winter when their time was not completely taken up by farm work. In the early years, many young Swedish, German, and Italian immigrants attended school in the winter months on average about four months but had to go to work on the farms come spring. Until the late 1930s, most teachers were single and customarily lived nearby, some boarding with local families."Application for status on the National Historic Register of Places.

The brick building has a full basement with windows. An interior pump brought in water from a cistern. Construction pre-dated the New Deal's Rural Electrification. Heating in the winter came from a coal furnace, the chimney for which can be seen to the left on the roof line.The building still has its furnishings, including a teacher's recitation desk and student desks, cloak hooks, bucket-lunch cupboards, wall maps, counting sticks and books, dual-purpose sand table and piano. Kansas Skyways. Image of classroom from LASR.

The tower bell still rings clear, but sadly no children answer its call today. In 1959 the last five students attended classes. Their names are inscribed on the plaque above.

Read memories of Rapp schoolhouse by Torsten E. Isaacson.

The schoolhouse was built with the Kansas weather in mind. The full basement provided protection from tornadoes. The front facing and rear facing windows allowed light from the south and north and avoided the harsh western sun. The toilet facilities were removed from the building and located at a distance from which this image was taken, adjacent to the Rapp cemetery.

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