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Nowadays, so many school buildings resemble factories; at one time, the schoolhouse was a more personal place. What author and photographer Paul Rocheleau has given us is a beautiful book on an iconic piece of Americana, the one-room schoolhouse. Mr. Rocheleau traveled across the U.S. to capture a representative sample of surviving examples of the one-room schoolhouse. The result is collection of beautiful photographs depicting some 240 surviving schoolhouses dating from pre-Revolutionary times to the 1940s. Though many of these buildings are now museum pieces, others still serve the function for which they were built, while others have been converted into private dwellings and community centers.
Mr. Rocheleau surveys the birth of the one-room schoolhouse (from the founding of Jamestown to 1775), its evolution from the founding of the Nation to 1890, and its "Golden Age," from 1890 to the beginning of World War II. He also covers efforts to restore and preserve these historic structures, one-room schoolhouses with special histories, and examples still in use today. I particularly enjoyed the examples of octagonal schoolhouses among the book's 208 pages. Included is a bibliography and a thoughtful introduction by Verlyn Klinkenborg, whose essays are much appreciated by readers of the New York Times.
The book was published in 2003 and, alas, out of print. This book deserves to be appreciated by more people who want to learn more about a form of architecture that beautifully reflects local culture.
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