Today’s schools are sprawling buildings filled with modern conveniences: air conditioning, running water, computers, and indoor restrooms. Our children have everything they can possibly need to ensure that learning is not just pleasant, but is fun and entertaining. But that was not always the way.
The first schools in America were simple, one-room buildings with a coal stove and desks. There were no oversized chalkboards running along the walls of the structure, air conditioning, and electric lights did not exist, and if a bathroom visit was needed, you walked outside to the cold and bug infested outhouse. Comfort and convenience were two words early school children did not benefit from, but yet they still managed to thrive and learn in spite of the difficulties they faced.
Today, you have the opportunity to get a glimpse of what life must have been like for children over 200 years ago by visiting the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America, located on St. George Street, near the city gates. Your children may even experience a new appreciation for their own schools after spending a little time here!
The Building and Its History
Made of cypress and red cedar, this rustic building was put together with pegs made of wood and nails that were homemade during a time when Florida was still ruled by Imperial Spain. The windows did not have glass, but heavy wood shutters were built to stave away severe weather, making the interior even darker than normal. The interior walls are made of rough-hewn planks joined tightly together similar to the ones on the floor, and the only extra lighting was an oil lantern placed at the edge of the schoolmaster’s desk.
Many early schools only had coal stoves for heating, but the students at the oldest schoolhouse in America had the added “luxury” of a large stone fireplace located at one end of the separate building that housed the kitchen. The school master and his family lived in the upstairs section of this rustic log building; at least his commute was a short one! No playgrounds grace the outside of the school, for although there may have been break times, children in those days created their own entertainment. Luxuries were hard found in the days when the oldest wooden schoolhouse was in use.
The Ocean Gallery
Today, you can view not just the structure, but exhibits and artifacts of past days which are also on display. Book your Ocean Gallery luxury vacation home today and experience life in its most basic form when you visit the St. Augustine oldest wooden schoolhouse.
There’s even more to see in St. Augustine! Check out the fun attractions and activities below for more vacation ideas: