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.
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:
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