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History of The One Room School House

Newburne One Room School

One Room School

The Newburne School, built in the 1900’s, near Looneyville, WV is a prime example of schools built in Roane County during this era. These schools cost about $100 each and were built within communities so that children would not have to walk over two miles to school.

Each school had three trustees.  Their primary job was to find and hire a teacher; they also were to oversee the school grounds.  In the 1930’s, the average salary of the teacher was $100 dollars per month. 

Spencer Antique Mall

During the 1930’s & 1940’s, Roane County had about 90 one-room schools.  By the end of the 1950’s many schools had been consolidated or closed.  Several factors led to this decline: better roads, ability to bus students, and teacher availability.

In 1985, the Newburne School was one of the last one-room schools left standing.  The school board donated the building to the city of Spencer, WV for inclusion amongst the other historical sites in Heritage Park.  The transfer was not without protest, as you can see in the pictures accompanying this story. City workers anchored the building to a tractor frame and relocated it to its place in Heritage Park.  The building was then renovated.

The Roane County Association of Retired School Personnel adopted the project of refurnishing and managing the school.  Four retired teachers, Juanita Runnion, Lois Murray, Louise Garrett, and Eloise Meads, partnered and obtained a $2,500 grant from the Benedum Foundation.  With this money and other donations from the community, they purchased, restored, and arranged the building’s contents.  Over the years, many retirees helped with this project. 

The school is opened for special occasions, the first Saturday of the month during summer, Heritage Days, the Black Walnut Festival and by special request for field trips of current day students and teachers.

Helen E. Middleton wrote this poem:


Do you have a little red schoolhouse
safe in your memory,
With an iron stove and an outside pump
and a shady apple tree?

There were well-carved desks and water
pail and many shaggy books,
A round world globe, a few rough shelves…
at the back, a row of hooks.

A long black stovepipe ran the length
of the rudely finished room
And a coal-oil lamp on a swinging chain
helped dispel the gloom.

A blackboard graced the whole front
wall; there was always lots of chalk.
You used a slate and your pencil
squeaked and no one dared to talk.

The modern schools are large and grand
and beautiful to see,
But how many love the country school
treasured in memory?