Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Nebraska State Fair at Lincoln: A Photographic Memoria

A photographic series focusing on the historic buildings of the Nebraska State Fairgrounds in Lincoln. In an unfortunate move by the Nebraska State Legislature, the State Fair will move to Grand Island in 2010. Many of these buildings will likely be torn down. It is my intention to try to capture these magnificent spaces for all to enjoy and remember.

Heritage Village: Cunningham School

Like most one-room schoolhouses, District 113 has a history reaching back into the 19th century. The first building was located on land squarely in the center of Newmann Township, some six or seven miles northwest of Valparaiso. It was donated by John Cunningham, thus the designation as "Cunningham School." The original building partially burned during the 1930's, but was reconstructed on the same site.

The building was fully equipped with a coal-burning stove and outhouse, but pupils carried their own water to school. Peak enrollment for the Cunningham School was 32, and the children sat three-at-a-desk. By 1966, only four youngsters of the elementary school aged lived in the district, and the schoolboard contracted for their instruction.

The building, then unused as a school was purchased by the Nebraska State Fair from Adolph Kliment, and moved to State Fair Park in 1975, as the first step in the creation of "Heritage Square."

The building has been refurbished as a working school, though not just for display purposes. The Lincoln Public Schools have developed a Social Studies unit which allows Lincoln elementary students to spend a day in the one-room schoolhouse, and is scheduled for use by a different class each day, throughout the school year.

Read a recent story about the schoolhouse and its future here.

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