PENFIELD, Ill. — A restored one-room schoolhouse will be a new feature at the annual Historic Farm Days July 11-14.
The schoolhouse, constructed in the late 1800s just north of Rantoul, was moved about 10 miles to the I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club show grounds in 2016.
The move took about six to seven hours and included coordinating with the electric company to temporarily remove or adjust overhead wires along the route.
In the late 1800s through the first several decades of the 20th century, one-room schoolhouses could be found every couple of miles around the countryside.
Urbanization, the development of the school bus and a desire to upgrade the educational system doomed the one-room schools, resulting in the mass consolidation with nearby towns.
“The I&I Club is not just about preserving the antique farm machinery, we’re also about preserving that way of life. Many, many people in this area went to the one-room schoolhouses years ago. This is one of the few schoolhouses left that had never been repurposed into a house or another type of building, so we felt it was very important to get it onto our grounds, get it restored and preserved so that future generations can see it,” Chuck Stelter, , said at the time of the move.
Once moved to the show grounds, a foundation was completed, the schoolhouse exterior painted and floor joist replaced.
“The school was in pretty bad shape. The floor was totally disintegrated. It was in pretty bad shape. I did quite a bit of the work inside of it, and I tell people in the club that if I’d seen it, we wouldn’t have moved it,” Kenny Knight, an I&I Club member, said with a laugh.
“Most of the inside is done. We refinished all of the existing wood, made it look old. We put the stage back in, put a floor down with wood from a crib to make it look old. We installed a ceramic old-style look on the remaining floor to make it look old.
“It’s kind of been slow, but we put it together this winter. It is also handicap accessible, too, so everyone can go into it. It’s a great addition to the grounds and will be open for the show.”
A volunteer will be on hand at the schoolhouse throughout Historic Farm Days for demonstrations and to answer questions.
“There will be different activities at the schoolhouse, so when people stop by, they’ll feel like they’re in a one-room school,” Knight said.
The school is located between the I&I Farm Museum, formerly the Penfield Grade School, and log cabin post office.