Reliving history in a one-room schoolhouse
Serendipity! Part One: In this space a few weeks ago, I posted an entry about the League City Historical Society's Oak Tree Registry. While researching for that story, I came across a little hidden gem here in League City.
On a Sunday afternoon in late September I had made a phone call to the League City Historical Society to ask about how I could get my hands on one of the registry books. I was told that the books are only available Monday through Friday during normal business hours. However, just as I was about to hang up the phone the helpful voice on the other end of the line told me that if I could meet at the West Bay Common School Children's Museum (210 North Kansas Avenue) later that afternoon, I could buy the book and minutes later we both could go on with the rest of our day.
I arrived at the museum about ten minutes early so I took the opportunity to walk around, read the signs, take a few photographs and explore the facility from the outside. There were three buildings on the grounds of the museum plus a vintage outhouse with a well-worn path leading to it. I wondered if it were somehow still in operation. From the looks of these buildings I had stepped back in time to the late 1800's or perhaps I was somehow dropped right in the middle of the filming of The Little House on the Prairie.
To the left of where I had parked, there was a smallish, narrow, white building turned perpendicular to the road. It had two doors and one window. The big, green letters at the top of the building read League City Ice Co." A peek into the window next to the first door revealed an old fashioned barber shop scene. There was a man sitting in the chair while another stood behind him doing what barbers are supposed to be doing when someone is occupying their chair. The second door looked very solid with a large wooden handle and no windows. This must be where the ice used to be stored.
To the right of the ice house was a larger building with a sign at the top which read Historic League City Barn Museum". This tin-roofed building was sided by well-weathered boards with barely a speck of paint on them. With an old wooden bench and oaken barrel on the front porch, this place had the feeling of an old-fashioned saloon. All of the doors and windows on this building were either covered with signs or had the blinds pulled. A look inside the barn museum would have to wait. To the right another ten feet or so set the old-fashioned, but well-maintained, out house.
Further to the right hiding under the shadow of a couple of large live oaks was the third building. This building was wearing its tin roof and faded yellow paint rather comfortably. Rusty but not ragged; weathered but not worn. Six windows lined nearly the entire northern side of this building. A look inside the dark windows revealed row after row of antique school desks, the type that have one students' chair attached to the front of another students' desktop. Other than the desks, the only prominent item visible in the dark room was a large, black pot-bellied stove directly in the middle of the room. This was obviously the namesake of the facility. This building is the West Bay Common School. About that time, I heard a car pull into the parking lot. It was time to buy the book and quickly be on my way. Alas, my sightseeing time was upor so I thought!
Visit this column next time to learn what is hiding behind the locked doors of these three buildings. Jim.ClearLakeReflections@gmail.com
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