(aka Charlotte Hall School)
The Little Red
Schoolhouse, built in the early 19th century, stands restored
and preserved on the grounds of the St. Clement’s Island Museum
in Colton’s Point, Md. This humble little structure stands as a
monument to education in early America representing one of
hundreds of one-room schoolhouses that have dotted our nation.
Originally located on Thompson Corner Road in the
Charlotte Hall area of St. Mary’s County, the land it sat on was
purchased from the Edwards family for $10 per acre. Records
indicate that a good and substantial house of 16 feet square and
of chestnut logs was erected for the sum of $150.
the school was attended by children in grades one through seven
who lived within walking distance.
But walking distance
could mean a long way.
““We walked 5 to 6 miles each way
to school,” says Mrs. Gladys Herbert Bowling, who started
attending the school in 1918 at the age of six, and who was
graduated in 1925. And it was often dark by the time the
children got home
|“There were no
paved roads,” Mrs. Bowling adds, and on rainy days the mud
sometimes pulled the children’s rubbers right off their feet. In
bad weather, there was no school.br>
Mrs. Bowling says that
when she attended, the school also had a “cloakroom” where
grades 1 through 3 met, while grades 4-5 and 6-7 met in the
These were the days of no electricity and
no plumbing. Light came through the large windows and heat was
provided by the wood-burning stove. Winter mornings were
freezing until the stove got hot.
Water was only
available by cranking an outdoor hand pump and the restroom was
an outhouse, one for the boys and one for the girls.
There was no cafeteria. No gymnasium. No air conditioning. No
bus transportation. The students who went to school here lived a
simpler life. Different than today maybe, but they still learned
the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
||The Little Red Schoolhouse was
presented to the St. Clement’s Island Museum by the heirs of
Maryland State Senator and member of the House of Delegates,
Henry J. Fowler, Sr. Senator Fowler had attended the school in
1919. Many years later, Senator Fowler purchased the now
decrepit building from the St. Mary’s County Board of Education
for $5. On October 25, the school was moved 3 miles from its
original location to Horse Range Farm to be preserved as a
On April 17, 1991, the schoolhouse was moved to
its new foundation on the St. Clement’s Island Museum grounds.
Also donated were the building’s contents, including the desks
and a picture of George Washington, and are replica “two-seater”
outhouse. Sadly, none of the contents are from the original
The move itself was a community effort by
volunteers, utility companies and local businesses. The caravan
averaged a sedate 4 m.p.h. on its 28 mile, 6-hour long trip as
cables and wires were lifted to allow the 19-foot high structure
to pass underneath.
Today, visitors can enter this
preserved “treasure” of yesteryear and almost hear the sounds of
days past within its walls.
The Little Red Schoolhouse is
open during the operating hours of the St. Clement’s Island
Museum and is handicap accessible.