NOW:53132:USA00949
http://widgets.journalinteractive.com/cache/JIResponseCacher.ashx?duration=5&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdata.wp.myweather.net%2FeWxII%2F%3Fdata%3D*USA00949
26°
H 28° L 26°
Cloudy | 3MPH

Whelan School gives modern kids taste of 1908 one-room school days

Oct. 9, 2008

Wearing a pinafore and toting a lunch pail, second-grader Madison Cummings nervously paused at the entrance to Whelan School, an A-shaped, one-room Cream City brick schoolhouse in Franklin’s Lions Legend Park.

Inside awaited a trip back to the school days of 1908. Instead of computers and Smart Boards, this classroom featured fountain pens and ink wells, slate boards, a pump organ and a potbelly stove.

“Things were a lot different then,” Madison said.

A moment later, historical re-enactors Barbara Pforr and Luanne Burdick greeted Cummings and her fellow students from Greenfield School District’s Elm Dale Elementary outside Whelan School. Dressed in ankle-length black skirts, white high-necked blouses and sensible shoes courtesy of area resale shops, they looked like early 20th-century school marms.

The two retired teachers, members of the Franklin Historical Society, have been giving schoolchildren a glimpse into the past since May 2007. For $2 per student, Whelan School is catching on as an entertaining, yet educational field trip.

The school served students in grades one through eight until 55 years ago, when the former Ben Franklin Elementary School opened in Franklin. In the late 1960s, the Historical Society purchased the old schoolhouse and had it moved to the park. The school was named after Patrick Whelan, who owned the land at Highway 100 and Puetz Road, where the schoolhouse was originally built.

“We thought, we’ve got such a beautiful building here, why not take advantage of the opportunity,” Pforr recalled.

Hands-on history lesson

The school-day agenda included reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, working math problems on slates, creating art and singing such songs as “America the Beautiful.” Simple games such as the ring toss were featured at recess.

Burdick also read aloud biographical sketches of students who had attended the school and told the kids about life 100 years ago.

Theodore Roosevelt was president; Henry Ford was just beginning to sell his horseless carriages. Oklahoma had recently become a state, and the Crayola Co. introduced a new artistic device in eight colors — the crayon.

“They spend a regular day in 1908 with slate boards and McGuffey (beginning-to read) Readers,” Burdick said. “The only differences are that they have the experience compressed into four hours, and we only have one grade level, as opposed to the eight they had back then.”

The re-enactment also includes visits to Lions Park’s other historical buildings: Franklin Town Hall, the Sheehan-Godsell Log Cabin and St. Peter’s Chapel. Pforr’s husband, Dale Pforr, sometimes plays a turn-of-the-century town chairman during the tours.

Many differences noted

Barbara Pforr said the program has grown in popularity largely because of a fascination with the past.

“We want them to see the historical changes in education between (1908) and now,” she said.

Those differences are considerable. For example, the school year did not start until fall harvest was done.

“The crops had to be brought in,” Pforr said. “Kids also had a lot of ailments back then. They might be out of school a month and have to come back and blend in again.”

Farm kids trudged great distances through snowstorms to attend Whelan School, Burdick told the children. They gathered wood early in the morning to feed the school’s potbelly stove. A trip to the outhouse often meant tearing a page out of a catalogue.

Elm Dale teacher Betsy Bowen said her class will follow up their visit to Whelan School with more study of the history of the area.

“This is kind of a start. Now we’ll go back and read about schools back then, and they’ll write about their experience,” Bowen said.

John Neville can be reached at (262) 446-6609.

TIME LINE

1878

Whelan School is built

1953

Whelan School closes

1969

Whelan School moves to Lions Legend Park

2007

re-enactors open schoolhouse for school groups

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.


Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» Oak Creek wrestlng team overwhelms Franklin, 50-18 12/18

» Westbound I-94 near Miller Park to close for 31 hours beginning Friday night 12/18

» Franklin to negotiate terms of West St. Martins Road repair, ownership with Milwaukee County 12/17

» Developers propose three apartment projects in Cudahy 12/11

» Oak Creek has plans for development on lakefront after cleanup 12/10

» Oak Creek accepts ownership of former EPEC, Du Pont lakefront land 12/10

» Menomonee Falls boys get defensive in beating Franklin, 48-30 12/9

» Homeward bound: Victory of the Lamb, Kayla's Krew move closer to making new facilities a reality 12/9

» Oak Creek listens to proposals for new fitness center 12/9

» Franklin man faces arson charge for allegedly starting apartment fire 12/8

» Select Hales Corners Library services on hold during carpet project 12/8

» Tailgate 'n skate with Santa in Hales Corners 12/8

» No new Chapter 220 seats identified in OCFSD for 2015-16 12/4

» Arson suspect of Franklin apartment complex fire taken into custody 12/3

» Protest stalls Franklin apartment plan 12/2

» Fire at Franklin apartment building under investigation 12/1

» In more schools, going to class means heading to the woods 11/26

» Franklin Historical Society plans two old-fashioned Christmas events over two weekends 11/26

» Public workshop welcomes input for Lake Vista redevelopment 11/26

» Mom gets 7 years for child porn between herself and toddler son 11/25

» Have a 'Dickens of a Christmas' in Greendale on December 5 11/24

» Wrong-way driver turns himself in after I-794 crash Updated:  11/22

» Off-duty Milwaukee police officer pepper-sprayed by fleeing suspect 11/22

» State champion Oak Creek girls hoops team opens with rout of Horlick 11/21

» Video: Franklin faces conflicting views on new developments 11/21

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss

Advertisement

Deal Watch - Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Best Discounts & Deals

Advertisement

Local Business Directory

CONNECT    

Most Popular