Eastern Kentucky University hosted an open house event celebrating the restoration and history of the Granny Richardson Springs One-Room Schoolhouse on Thursday, Sept. 9. The refurbished building, located on the far end of campus next to the Ashland Building and the College of Justice & Safety, is a cherished relic where Eastern makes an active effort to honor the long history of educators in Kentucky.

The schoolhouse itself‒named for Martha Elkin Richardson, who spent the longest time teaching in it‒ was first erected on Estill County’s Brushy Mountain in 1900, six years prior to the opening of what would later become Eastern Kentucky University. In 1964, the schoolhouse closed down, but 14 years later it was disassembled, moved to EKU’s campus, and reassembled in its current location.

To get a better understanding of why Eastern had taken such an interest in the schoolhouse, Richard Day, curator of the museum and the professor who took the lead on recent restoration efforts said, “EKU actually used to be what you would call a ‘normal school.’” He continued, “This all came off of Eli Sparks’ land back in ‘76, at the time under Dr. Martin, but the school itself predates Eastern by a few years.”

A normal school was a school dedicated to training and educating teachers who often came from their own schoolhouses to learn better ways of teaching students. Day said that though the schoolhouse itself was shut down well after Eastern had transitioned away from focusing solely on educators, the items and recreations inside the schoolhouse were not.

“The artifacts in the school are mostly from the 1940s and ‘50s, around when students my age would have been attending,” Day said. 

Gesturing to the catering tents at the event, Day said there were several people present who donated their possessions from their time at the schoolhouse to the museum.

Day and his team spoke to everyone present about preservation efforts, the previous administrations at Eastern that contributed to the museum over the years, and the importance of cherishing the impact and legacy of one-room schoolhouses. Many attendees were ecstatic about the event, which was accompanied by live bluegrass music, a spread of pulled pork, brisket, and potato chips and an impromptu speech by former EKU president Doug Whitlock. 

“It’s my hope that students will take an interest in the schoolhouse and come visit from time to time,” Day said. “We need to preserve the memory of one-room schoolhouses.”

The Granny Richardson Springs One-room Schoolhouse is open to students and visitors. If you have any artifacts that you think should be donated for display in the museum, please contact Day at richard.day@eku.edu.

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