SYCAMORE – While visiting the old North Grove School on Brickville Road, Erin Cook said she appreciates the glimpse of history offered by the one-room schoolhouse that provides insight into how children were taught decades ago.
And her 6-year-old daughter, ZoŽ, was “amazed that kids came outside to go to the bathroom,” Cook said Sunday with a laugh.
During this past weekend’s annual open house, tours of the school were offered and old-fashioned games were played. Penny candy, baked goods, wooden nickels and corn-husk dolls were available for purchase. Root beer floats were popular Sunday amid the afternoon heat.
Teresa Irving, member of the North Grove School Association, said the objective is to keep the school in the public eye, ensuring that future generations learn about and preserve its history.
“So when we’re gone and faded away, there is some longevity to it,” she said.
Irving said North Grove School was built in 1878. It was used by Swedish Lutherans as a parochial school until it became a public school two years later.
The old North Grove School closed in 1952 but, since the ‘70s, has been used for educational purposes and social gatherings. Sycamore School District 427 owns the school – the county’s only one-room school in its original location – but leases it to the North Grove School Association.
“This is the authentic thing,” Irving said.
A celebration held Saturday recognized the school’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, with representatives from the city and school district in attendance.
The association found out in February the school had earned the designation, which association President Carole Lichty said members were proud of and humbled by.
A rock with a plaque inset now sits on the school’s grounds, recognizing the year the school was built and its place on the national register.
Irving hopes the listing shares the school’s significance with the entire country. Locally, older people enjoy seeing a school similar to one they may have gone to, and children who visit with school groups come back with their families, she said.
“The real benefit is just the esteem for the school,” she said. “... Hopefully, all the generations of kids that come in here will find it intriguing later on.”
Bob and Lori Bowker took their grandchildren, Jack and Jolie Keck, to see the schoolhouse “so they appreciate what they have,” Lori Bowker said. Children these days don’t seem to have a sense of nostalgia, but the grandchildren were fascinated by the water pump on the school grounds.
“It’s really kind of unique to see it the way it was ... years ago,” Bob Bowker said.
Irving said the school will hold open houses from 1 to 4 p.m. the last Sunday of July and August.