For a time Turkey Creek, Arkansas, with a population averaging around 300 people, had its own school. There was one room, two doors, 10 windows, some slate blackboard, and a woodstove. It was built in 1925, but by the looks of it, the sweet little schoolhouse could easily be 100 years older. It may seem like there’s nothing special about the Turkey Creek Schoolhouse, but it represents what education was for thousands of rural and mountain kids well into the 20th century.
Built by local carpenters Robert Dawkins and George Green, the school was built on donated land in the remote community of Turkey Creek, down the road from larger Mountain View in the southern Ozarks. As with just about any old structure in Arkansas, a stone foundation supports the single-story wood frame, with clapboard siding and a sheet metal gabled roof. It lacked indoor plumbing, evidenced by the dilapidated well out front, and long-neglected outhouses tucked away on the north side of the property. The school closed its doors in 1949, one of hundreds of similar one-room school houses absorbed by larger regional schools.
Today the building is privately owned, but used for everything from community meetings to group singing lessons, and even the occasional wedding. In 1985 it was added to both the Arkansas State and National Registers of Historic Places. Dawkins’ and Green’s construction has held up pretty well in the last 90 years, able to provide us with an example of the kind of hyper-local schools that once peppered Arkansas, and hundreds of other rural communities.
Know Before You Go
Turkey Creek is about 12 miles south of Mountain View on AR-9. The schoolhouse is privately owned, so you would need permission to go inside. But the grounds are right along the south side of the road, so you can look around.