Custer County’s Largest and Smallest Historic Schoolhouse

District 1 Historic Schoolhouse, Rosita, Colorado

The original two-story schoolhouse in Rosita, Custer County, Colorado.

The original two-story schoolhouse in historic Rosita, Custer County, Colorado.

Both the largest and smallest historic schoolhouse was located in the center of the mining town of Rosita, Colorado, located on CR 328 (Rosita Road) seven miles southwest of Westcliffe, Colorado. The large two-story building was built on a hill just above the business district. It was to house 288 students enrolled in the district in 1881. The construction was of shingle roof and wood siding painted with whitewash.

A fire broke out in 1884 in the center of the business district, burning stores and homes to the ground. The fire was contained before it reached the schoolhouse and county jail next to it (seen to the left of the schoolhouse in the photo). The large school served the community for many years, but as the mines were closed and the population of the town dwindled, the large building was no longer needed to educate the children.

In 1922 the school board asked the Custer County commissioners to deed the small one-room Rosita jailhouse to them and the commissioners agreed. The bars were sawed from the window frames and curtains were hung. A blackboard was placed on the wall, then desks for the students and teacher were moved in. The District 1 school board then voted to sell the two-story building to the highest bidder who would tear it down. It is believed that the purchaser used the material to build the Harmony Community Building on Froze Creek. Later that building was moved to a lot on Hwy. 69 near Hermit Rd. to house the First Baptist Church of Westcliffe.

The little jail schoolhouse served the Rosita community for many years. The building is still standing where it was built, but today it is part of a private residence.

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