East Waterford School

Site Type: 
Historic Building
GPS Coordinates: 
40.349807 -90.115238
Waypoint Name: 
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Located on Dickson Mounds Museum property. Park in museum main parking lot.

East Waterford SchoolEast Waterford SchoolYou are now at the front porch of East Waterford School in Waterford Township, Fulton County, Illinois. To the north you will see the Dickson Mounds Museum building. The rise of earth between you and the museum is the Dickson burial mound. To the east you will see a lovely view of the Illinois River Valley spread out before you.

The red-brick schoolhouse you see is the second building to occupy this site. The first East Waterford School was a wooden frame structure constructed in 1856. A pre-dawn fire in the spring of 1907 destroyed this building along with its equipment and records. Classes were held in the Waterford Town Hall for the remainder of the term.

Construction on the red brick schoolhouse you see before you began immediately after the fire in 1907, and the structure was finished in time for the fall term. Originally the school had stationary desks in rows, but eventually the desks were fastened to moveable strips. The school had the following equipment, which was fairly standard for country schools: a set of wall maps, a world globe, a set of encyclopedias, and a set of dictionaries. A corner of the room served as a library. The school was heated by a coal- and wood-burning stove in the basement. Kerosene lamps were used during night programs until the building was electrified in 1939 by the Rural Electrification Administration.

In addition to fire, tornadoes were always a threat. The closest call came in 1933 when a tornado took the roof off the new building that had been erected over the burial excavation exhibit at Dickson Mounds only one hundred yards away. After this near miss, the school board had a concrete shelter built part way into the slope of the hill just outside the building. A telephone was also installed in the school.

The average daily attendance at East Waterford School ranged from 20 to 30 pupils. All eight grades were taught in the school's single classroom.

East Waterford School served Waterford residents until 1957, when rural school consolidation forced it to close. From 1959 to 1986, the schoolhouse was used as a laboratory and field camp by archaeologists working at Dickson Mounds Museum. In 1988, the building was restored to its original appearance, and now serves as a special events location and meeting place for museum activities.

If you are interested in looking inside East Waterford School, please visit the reception desk at Dickson Mounds Museum.

East Waterford School
Located on the Dickson Mounds Museum property.
Full address:
East Waterford School, Located on the Dickson Mounds Museum property., Near N. Dickson Mounds Rd. and E. Prairie Rd., Lewistown,, IL, 61542, United States
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