A rural Douglas County schoolhouse built in 1900, with roots going back to the 1850s, is one of the newest additions to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kansas State Historical Society announced this week that Clearfield School at 2162 N. 600 Road, northeast of Baldwin City in Palmyra Township, is now one of 1,350 Kansas properties on the national register. The school was one of three Douglas County properties added to the register earlier this month.
Ron Wright, who has championed the property since the 1990s, and John More worked on the nomination for the school, which is maintained by the Clearfield Community Historical Society.
The society continues to restore the one-room school to how it may have looked around 1908 and is progressing to restore the tin ceiling and bell tower, More said.
“The future looks better for the Clearfield School No. 58,” More said. “In a different way than the industrious farmers who moved the structure in 1908, the historic listing continues to move education in Southeast Douglas County.”
Clearfield School No. 58 is thought to have served Shawnee Indians as early as 1852, with at least two buildings preceding the current one, More said. It was used by German-speaking evangelical shepherds, but German language was replaced by English after 1918.
The school closed in 1946 but served as a meeting house for the Clearfield Grange until the 1990s, when it was donated to Clearfield Community Historical Society, according to the Kansas State Historical Society. It was nominated for the national register as part of the Historic Public Schools of Kansas multiple property nomination for its significance in the areas of education and architecture, described as Queen Anne and Stick style with ornamental windows and fishscale siding.
The Douglas County Natural and Cultural Heritage Grant Program has funded some restorations at the school. According to the most recent grant application, the school is hoped to house interpretive stories of its former occupants, such as the Shawnee Indians and German-speaking pioneers.
These are the other newly added Douglas County properties:
Kansas University East Historic District, KU campus, Lawrence
This 13-acre district supplements the KU Historic District added to the national register in 2013. While the main district — along Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive — tells the story of academics at the university, the east district focuses on student residential and religious life. Highlights include scholarship halls and Danforth Chapel. It was nominated for its significance in the areas of education and architecture.
Upper Wakarusa River Crossing, 1180 E. 1400 Road, Lawrence
This spot on the Oregon and California trails is nationally significant as an intact river crossing of the mid-19th century routes, which followed the same path in Kansas, according to the Kansas State Historical Society. Its cutdowns are a rare feature illustrating methods employed to bring wagon trains across rivers and streams. The crossing was nominated for its significance in the areas of transportation and early settlement.