The 1871 schoolhouse in Neosho, Missouri is famous partly because it’s so old – it’s 145! – but more so because it’s where George Washington Carver (a famous scientist known for his experiments with peanuts) began his formal education from. A building that has gone through many lives (it was used as residential space after the school closed in 1891, and has now been under the supervision of the National Park Service for over a decade), the Neosho Schoolhouse was rapidly deteriorating – until HistoriCorps volunteers swooped in.

neosho2

Laurie Sisk, from The Joplin Globe, captures work being done during week one of the Neosho project

Volunteers have now just started to transform the schoolhouse back to its original condition, removing anything that is not of historical significance – including the siding and the lean-to. One of the only remaining 19th-century schoolhouses for African American students, the site is owned by the Carver Birthplace Association, which hopes to provide tours and put the site on the National Register for Historic Places list. No wonder it’s often referred to as the “little building with a big story!”

The goal, according to project supervisor John Bales, is to “expose the original building” – but it seems volunteers are quickly going to surpass that goal! “We almost accomplished my goal for the first week on the first day!”

Because of all the great work taking place at Neosho, the project has drummed up some great media attention in newspapers, online and on tv! The volunteers are all talkative, and the Carver Birthplace Association has been enjoying the spotlight as well. Even the mayor chimed in on the restoration project, commenting, “Neosho is growing, Neosho is prospering and just exciting stuff.” We can’t wait to read and see more coverage as the project continues.

Below are some links to various news articles and posts:

The Joplin Globe

KOAM TV

Neosho Daily News

KSN TV (pre-project article)

Neosho Daily News (pre-project article)

 

neosho1

Kim Mailes shows the rear view of the schoolhouse after a day of work.

Besides all of that great news, volunteer and Neosho native Kim Mailes has started his own blog on the schoolhouse and what’s taking place there. If you’ve been itching to know what a day – or a week – or an entire project – in the life of a volunteer looks like, read Kim’s blog! Check it out for daily updates, and for some great background on Carver and the schoolhouse itself!

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATED MEDIA LIST:

KSN TV: HistoriCorps and Volunteers Put In Hard Work  June 17

St Louis Dispatch: Restoration Work Underway  June 19

Neosho Daily News: Historic Carver School Unveiled  June 19

Springfield News-Leader: Two-room school will be restored  June 22

Neosho Daily News: Local Expert Comes Home  June 25

Neosho Daily News: Frat Brothers Help at Restoration  June 28

Neosho Daily News: Neosho ‘doing right by history’  June 30

Neosho Daily News: Editorial  July 2