Walnut Grove School (Cedar No. 7)

3272 Foothill Ave. Osage, IA (Meroa)

Cedar Number 7

-also known as the Walnut Grove School, was one of twelve one-room schools located in Cedar Township, Mitchell County, Iowa.

This old one-room schoolhouse still stands on its original site; nestled in the trees along the banks of Rock Creek; the Walnut Grove school house (Also known as Cedar #7) is located at 3272 Foothill Avenue, Meroa, Iowa.

The school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

A brief tour of the school... (Click here)

Walnut Grove is a typical "box car"style school building with eight windows and one exit door. The bell tower is on the entry end of the building, with an attached rope hung through the ceiling inside for calling school time.

The interior walls and ceiling is of the original wainscoting and painted a chalk white. An eight - inch elevated floor at the front of the classroom served as the stage for programs. Curtains were hung across the front of the stage just before programs adding the dramatic effect of the children's performances.

Walnut Grove had no need of playground equipment because the children played along the creek and in the wooded area. In winter, sleds were brought to school and recesses were spent enjoying a quick slide down to the creek. When Rock Creek iced over, skating was great fun.

Two outhouses and one woodshed completed the buildings on the school premises. At one time there was a partition between the boys and the girls outhouses that was attached to the school building. Girls exited the school and went to the right to get to their toilet and the boys exited to the left. For some reason, the boy's toilet always needed more repair than the girls.

Walnut Grove School was heated with a space wood/coal stove. The top of the sotve was flat so food could be warmed at lunch time. An aroma of various soups made for anxious hungry students.

Not such a pleasant aroma was the wet mittens laid around the stove to dry after recesses.

The coat room or entry provided hooks for hanging wraps (coats, jackets, snow pants) and also a space for a wash basin and water cooler. Clothes pins attached to the wall were used to hang the individual towels or sometimes a common towel for drying hands.

Teachers were hired for one term of three months. A Fall term, Winter term, and Spring term, with hiring for another term directly determined by the evaluation of the teachers performance by the director.

Life in the school... (Click here)

Excerpts from board minutes of Walnut Grove School

1900 - Proceeds of May social ($11.00) will be used for purchase of a bell.

1901 - Proceeds from sociable held in the schoolhouse, $4.27 to be used for purchase of an organ.

1904 - Director shall have a new partition built between the schoolhouse and the outhouses.

The school was equipped with world and US maps contained in a wooden cabinet hung on the wall. The door could be opened and individual maps pulled down.

A globe was hung from the ceiling for easy access. Pictures of American Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hung on the classroom wall.

Walks through the timber provided many science lessons. An abundance of wild flowers and small animals, insects, butterflies and birds made for a big out-of-door classroom.

The typical curriculum in 1906 included:

Arithmetic Numbers

Civil Government Physiology

Geography Reading

Grammer Spelling

History Language


The teacher playing the pump organ provided music for daily singing and for special programs.

In the mid 1940's rural electricity came to Cedar Number 7 (Walnut Grove). With no janitor service this meant one less job for the teacher. Prior to this lamps needed to be filled with kerosene and the chimneys always needed washing.

In 1997 when the township no longer had a use for the building, the Mitchell County Historical Society bought the former Walnut Grove, Cedar Number 7 school building. Interested citizens put in over 1000 hours of volunteer time renovating the structure and restoring it to its original classroom condition.

Oh, for that cold drink of water from the water cooler !