Iowa’s Oldest School Building: Locust School North of Decorah

Iowa Oldesr School

LOCUST– Due to the thoughtful the hindsight of the Winneshiek County Historical Society, who own and operate the Locust School house, everyone can go back in time and see history come alive. The school stands as a testiment to the time when when one-room school houses were a part of regular Iowa life, equipped with outhouses and wood stoves. This particular schoolhouse is known for being the only one in Iowa to have held classes continuously for 106 years! And the best part? It’s practically right out our back door!

This historical treasure, built in 1854, is not just for the older folks who remember the one room school house fondly, but also for the school children can enjoy the history of having the oldest school building in the state right here in northeast Iowa. The Locust School is just ten miles north of Decorah in the town of Locust. Click here to receive information about other cool places in Iowa

Elaine Hegg of Calmar remembers fondly her days at the Country Locust School. Elaine’s sixth grade class was one of the last classes to attend the school, making the school dear to her heart. In 1955 the school ceased being an “all grades” school. In the final years, it was used as the lower elementary for the western half of Pleasant Township. The Locust School closed in May 1962, and the following fall, all of the children in the area were bused to school in Decorah. Elaine remembers how hard it was to adjust from a one room classroom of twenty-five students to a large school with many rooms. Now, each year she is in charge of the old fashioned school pageant with a pie auction  at the county school, still nestled among the rolling hills and scenic bluffs north of Decorah. The event takes place yearly around Labor Day weekend.

If you haven’t seen this “National Register of Historic Places” gem, it is open summer weekend afternoons from 1-4 beginning on the first Saturday in June until the last weekend in August. It is also open to groups by appointment. Many schools groups tour the building each year and sometimes even conduct a class or two with the old school books on the shelves, using individual chalkboards for students, making history come alive.

Pack a picnic and take the family to a trip back in history this summer. Locust School is located at 1640 Big Canoe Road, Decorah.