Take a tour of a one-room schoolhouse
Serendipity! Part Two: This is a continuation of an article regarding a visit to the West Bay Common School Museum in League City.
Catharin Lewis, Director/Curator of the West Bay Common School Children's Museum introduced herself on the porch of the League City Ice Company building. After a few moments of cordial greetings, Catharin immediately segued into a whirlwind of facts, dates, names, and tales about the barber shop scene located just inside the window we were facing. If you visit the museum, and take my word for it, you should, be sure to ask her to tell you the amazing tale of how the plaster of paris barber and customer were made and why those two people are important to the history of League City.
Hopefully, you will also get a peek of what is being made behind the thick, sturdy door at the other end of the Ice Company building. As you might guess, the room is no longer used to store ice. After a few minutes of more facts, dates and trivia regarding the Ice Company building, Catharin excitedly said Come take a look at this!" as she started toward to the Barn Museum building.
I immediately got the feeling that Catharin had given this tour hundreds of times. Wait! Did I just say tour'? I had expected to be here for just a few short minutes to buy a book and now I'm in the middle of an impromptu tour. Catharin's passion and dedication to this place was obvious.
When the doors to the Barn Museum were unlocked and I stepped inside, I was amazed at the dozens of different displays that were in this building: a vintage post office counter, antique farm equipment, old fire station equipment, period clothing, vintage pictures and news articles, old tools, oaken barrels, school desks, and much more! Soon after we had entered the building, Catharin had gone to the back of the room to install a roll of paper into an antique player piano. As the paper scrolled through the machine, the bellows blew air through the tiny holes in the paper and the piano filled the building with music from a bygone era. The music seemed to energize Catharin even more as she guided me around the building to tell me the back-story, the history, and the significance of each of the items on display. There was a League City connection to every single item in that building. In fact, the building itself, in a previous incarnation, has a long history of significance to the history of League City.
As the music ended, I was invited to head over to the gem of this facility, The West Bay Common School. During your visit to the museum, you'll learn about the amazing story of this building and how it ended up in its current location as well as the effort required to restore it. Once inside, I took a closer look at the desks, each with its own ink blotters neatly in place. There was also a slate and soapstone pencils for each desk. I was surprised to learn that actual classes are still given in this schoolhouse. Children and adults can learn penmanship with fountain pens, history, reading and mathematics using the slates and reproduction textbooks from the late 1800's. This schoolroom is restored so perfectly that when you step inside you'll truly feel as though you have taken a trip back in time.
All of the work required to build, assemble and maintain this facility has been done by people like Catharin Lewis and a very small group of highly dedicated volunteers (they would be happy to have your help as well) in the League City Historical Society. In addition, these volunteers are currently doing several projects with the hopes of preserving League City's history: The Live Oak Tree Registry, inventory and documenting of stacks upon stacks of donated historical items, accumulating family trees of the League City veterans (Civil War, WWI and WWII) that are buried in the Magnolia Creek Cemetery, organizing a historic homes tour (coming up on December 12th) and much, much more!
Take some time to visit the museum soon. You'll be surprised at what you'll find.
On that Sunday afternoon, I had expected to do nothing more than to buy a book documenting the Oak Tree Registry and then be on my way. Instead, I had found a local treasure hiding there under the oak trees in downtown League City. Serendipity indeed!
Have you visited the One Room School House Museum in League City? If so, leave a message below and share with others what you discovered.
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