(The following information is taken, in part,
from a brochure distributed at the grand opening of the
museum on June 15, 2013.)
The Iowa Rural Schools Museum captures
the spirit and pride of Iowa's rural past. The
school once stood in Richland Township, Sac County,
Iowa, and was known as Willow Tree or Richland #1.
In October 2011 the school was moved to the nearby town
of Odebolt by the Rural Legacy Project committee and has
been restored to the Victorian look it had when it
opened in 1883. It is representative of the 12,623 schools
that were part of the Iowa rural schools system and
helped shape Iowa's rural development and character.
This museum celebrates the contributions of rural
schools in Iowa.
back to the 1880's ... Many artifacts are
original to Willow Tree/Richland #1 or from similar nearby
schools. Some date back to when the school opened
See rare globes, atlases and
Sit in double desks of the
1880's and know how to tell the age of school desks.
Learn how industry,
scholarship and citizenship were highly regarded and
Find out how a teachers'
graded certification influenced employment.
Learn about the standard
curriculum for all grades and view a required 8th
Learn how life skills of
observation, sewing and music were built into the
curriculum to support academics and character
development for both boys and girls.
Find out about the role that
rural schools played in maintaining community
Change across time
... See exhibits and learn about change from 1880 through the
1950's when most rural schools had closed. Primers
and textbooks; student and teacher desks; technology to
teach music; clothing, fabrics and shoes; school lunch pails; children's toys; children's chores; writing
instruments and media; pencil cases; and the use of itinerant
Special items to look for
... Zinc-lined dry sink; 1875 Iowa Atlas and 1900 school
globe; early mechanical pencil sharpeners; ink crock
used by teachers to fill ink wells; Anker blocks and
pencil cases brought by immigrants from Europe; complete
set of Teacher Cyclopedia available to all teachers in
the system for direction and guidance; an extensive
collection of books and resources open for research on
Iowa rural settlement and rural schools; beautifully
restored 1880's wood stove and kerosene heater;
collection of primers used over time; student awards and
certificates that reflect community values.
On the grounds ...
The museum grounds are located in a charming heritage
square in Odebolt. They feature a delightful,
life-sized sculpture of children called "Time for
School" by Dr. William Faller, nationally known for his
country school works. In 2015 a new sculpture was
added, donated by the Gronemeyer family in memory of
P. Dale and Marge Gronemeyer. It is entitled "Recess"
and depicts children playing on a tire swing. The
photo to the left also shows the outdoor, roofed
The museum sits next to a
restored Pioneer Home and across the street from the
Odebolt Historical Museum.
For children ...
The museum will be offering fun classes and special
events for children and adults to try their hand at work
and play activities from the 1880's to the 1950's.
Below is a slideshow of the
museum and some of its holdings.
If you are unable to see it, or to enlarge it,
or if that fails,
The Iowa Rural Schools Museum was developed
through the dedication and efforts of many individuals
and groups throughout the community. Special
recognition goes to the work of the Rural Legacy Project
Committee and Chair Carol Raasch, the support of the City
of Odebolt and Mayor Ron Rex, and technical guidance
from the museum curators, Sandra Kessler Host and
Funding and donated items have
been provided by generous individuals who have a
connection to and love for Iowa's rural schools. Critical funding was provided through grants as well as
from: Google Matching Gift Program; Renze
Charitable Foundation; Sac County Endowment Foundation;
Keep Iowa Beautiful; and Paint Iowa Beautiful.
Rural Legacy Project
... This museum is supported by the Rural Legacy
Project Committee. They are seeking funding
for state-of-art electronic self-guided tours; on-line
search ability, virtual tours and on-line learning
opportunities; networking with other nearby museums and
historic sites to create a coordinated tourist
destination; using technology and resources to help
other groups in small Iowa communities learn how to
preserve their historical sites; and continue to develop
and improve museum exhibits.
Proceeds from the below books also go to fund the Rural
Legacy Projects, including the Iowa Rural School Museum.
Text Book and
Instructional Resources for a 3 week
Unit in American History - by
Dorothy “Dee” Kessler Engstrom,
School System; A Lost Treasure
The Key to Iowa's
Rural Settlement, featuring Richland
#1 School in Sac County, near
Odebolt, Iowa - by Sandra Kessler Host
Iowa Historic Schools;
Highlighting Victorian Influence
Click to order the above books
All book proceeds go to
help fund the Iowa Rural School
Museum and Rural Legacy Project.