OPEN Sundays June thru August 2-4 pm
Lincoln School Museum is a restored 1880’s one-room brick school
located one mile north of Martinsville, Clark County, Illinois on a
spur of the National Road. It is just off the I/70 exit and easily
accessible to the traveling public as well as local residents. It
stands on its original location and has been restored to its turn of
the century charm strictly through private donations. The building
now serves as a living history museum for area school students.
There are very few restored schools in Illinois, and only two others
within a 50 mile radius. Both are wooden buildings. The Lincoln
School is representative of the brick construction of one-room
schools built during the 1880’s. Several brick schools remain in
the surrounding area but have been adapted to modern uses or
abandoned. The Lincoln School represents the typical one-room
school of the era and the education available of that time.
School, District 3, Martinsville Township, Clark County, District
27, existed as early as 1843. The earlier wooden structure was
replaced by a building erected about 1888 from soft, mud type brick
made by Harold Gallatin, a local resident. The building is done in
the Italianate architectural style and mortared in an English Bond.
The building served as a school until 1950 when consolidation of
schools in Clark County forced its closing. For the next 36 years,
the building was used for storage.
In the fall of
1986, Mrs. Tressie Morgan Nale-Povic, a former student and teacher
in the one-room schoolhouse system, began a campaign to save the
Lincoln School. She involved the Martinsville Chamber of Commerce,
which agreed to restore the building to serve as a one-room school
museum for the local community. With Mrs. Nale-Povic’s promise of
substantial financial backing, the Chamber began the project under
the direction of Carolyn “Lynn” Kelley.
reconstruction became a community effort. A local contractor who
had attended a one-room school did the restoration. He quickly
grasped the significance of the work and took a great deal of pride
in its authenticity. Restoration chairman, Lynn Kelley, a full-time
teacher, donated her time, rural electric cooperative
representatives buried the electrical lines, local volunteers
provided labor to clean out the building, and a young Boy Scout,
working on his Eagle Badge, tore out the flooring and found many
valuable artifacts in the process. Authenticity was
paramount in the restoration. Whenever possible, original materials
were used. When this was not feasible, components that simulated
original materials were employed. Numerous interior photographs
allowed proper construction and placement of shelves, cloak room,
and desks. The color of the walls and woodwork were matched from
paint chips found behind 20th century alterations.
Electricity was added to the building but has been made as
unobtrusive as possible by using recessed lighting and covering the
outlets with wainscoting. The best recommendation for the
restoration came on opening day when over 160 donors, mostly former
one-room school students, entered and exclaimed “It looks exactly
like the one I went to school in.” The building gives today’s
students a glimpse of the past and the type of education that served
the rural children of the early 20th century.
originally had two four-hole outhouses. Two single-hole outhouses
have been constructed around chemical toilet bases to make the
outhouses comply with current health codes. Another outbuilding was
moved to the site from a neighboring site. It closely resembles the
coal shed that was at the Lincoln School. In addition, three trees
and shrubs of the type used at the turn of the century have been
planted in the school yard.
The building cost
$40,000 to restore. All funds were from private donations or
fundraisers. Mrs. Nale-Povic generously donated half the monies and
helped raise the rest by direct mail to former students of
Martinsville High School. Nearly every donation was made by someone
or in memory of someone who had attended a one-room school. A few
fundraisers were conducted locally but ninety-nine per cent of the
funds came from private donors. Only four of the donations were
over $500. Most were under $100. These funds were raised in
eighteen months. Current operating funds come from donations
through “Friends of Lincoln School” and fund raisers such as a quilt
show, auction, a house walk, “Movies in the Park”, and donation
boxes in area business to help us replace the roofing.
1999, Lincoln School Museum qualified for a Green Thumb worker. An
administrative office and a plan for tourism were developed. This
position was occupied for two years and is currently vacant.
Administrative responsibilities are being handled by Carolyn “Lynn”
Since 1988 the
school has been open at regular hours. Special events have been
held such as a Salute to WWII Veterans, a quilt show, “I remember
Lincoln School”, and the Lincoln School Reunion. Approximately 100
elementary schools have been contacted to plan field trips to the
Lincoln School Museum. The Martinsville Grade School, Martinsville,
Illinois has sent Fourth Graders to the school each fall since
October of 1988. Palestine Grade School Sixth Graders have also made
an annual trip to the museum. Other area schools from Illinois and
Indiana have made field trips to Lincoln School.
School Museum interprets a one-room schoolhouse at the turn of the
century. It is open to the public on weekends from June through
August and any time by appointment. Several former one-room
schoolteachers have gladly donated their time to serve as docents
and lesson plans that reflect turn of the century education are
currently being developed. The Museum averages 250 visitors per
year. Future plans call for additional advertising in order to
increase the visibility of Lincoln School. At the present time, the
Lincoln School Museum has 12 volunteers. There is no paid staff.