The Willows Schoolhouse, District 15

Restored historic Willows one-room schoolhouse, Custer County, ColoradoIf The Willows schoolhouse walls could speak, they would give the names of the first builders of the school. Friedrick Kohl was “strong on education.” He and his wife Juliana had seven children within the first ten years of their arrival in the Wet Mountain Valley. On March 9, 1880, he contributed $10 to build a school. It is believed that was for the construction of a small building. Money was also paid out for a teacher’s wage beginning in 1880.

In 1889, landowner Charles J. Ireland deeded one acre of land to School District 15, and a voucher for $422.75 was sent to E. K. Kokowshy for construction of a new school building, the one that remains on the site today.

If the walls could speak, they would tell of the thirty-two children who filled the desks in 1892 as they answered the roll call. Or the class of 1943 that planted the perennial iris on the south side of the porch steps. The walls would remember teacher George Burns, who for a geography lesson told the class to write letters to people living in other countries across the seas and ask them to send a small rock to the school. Mr. Burns labeled each rock and displayed them around the classroom.

I am sure the walls enjoyed the after-school activities, such as pie socials, wedding receptions, and Charivari dances. The school closed as an education facility in 1948 when the county schools were consolidated, but the walls still saw people of the community for the square dance club, 4H activities, and when ever neighboring familes needed a gathering place. Oh, if only walls could speak.

For additional information and photos, please visit  website of the Historic Willows School Society, Inc.