An old school house with a brand new purpose

The Old Littlefield Schoolhouse is under restoration by Patricia and John Schoppman and the board of directors. A non-profit organization was formed in 2014 to begin the project of turning the school house into a historical museum and community meeting place. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

It was built in 1924 and served as the school in Littlefield, Beaver Dam, Desert Springs and Scenic, Arizona, until 1999. Since 1999 the school house has been sitting, a ghostly and lonely reminder of the history of the community.

The rich history of the pioneer families lies within the walls of the Old Littlefield Schoolhouse first built in 1924. At times the school had as little as a single student, Marilyn Reber. Mrs. Mabel McNight-Mitchell served as the school teacher for many years. Photos provided by Patricia Schoppman

The schoolhouse was built by Patricia Schoppman’s grandfather, a Reber, one of the area’s first successful settlers. Schoppman’s other side of the family were the Leavitts so her family history is deeply engrained in the walls of the Old Littlefield Schoolhouse and most of her family members, including herself, were educated there.

Inside main room of Old Littlefield Schoolhouse. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Schoppman and her husband John don’t want to see that history fade away and have already taken drastic steps to form a non-profit organization to renovate the schoolhouse while preserving its historical integrity.

The first step was to gather a board of trustees; Gail Frehner, Christie Ann Lindbergh, Ken Peterson, Christine Reber and Schoppman took on those roles and the non-profit organization ‘Old Littlefield Schoolhouse’ was born.

The main area of the old schoolhouse contains a small but usable stage once renovated. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Restoration plans call for turning the schoolhouse into a historical museum and meeting place for the community. The schoolhouse also contains a small stage that is expected to be kept for speakers and possibly some small theater productions in the future.

Of course no plan of this enormity can happen without funding and they are off to a good start but need help from the community to see this project through to fruition.

The first financial hill the BOT climbed was to remove the old asbestos, which they did with help from a $9,100 Brownfields Grant.

Other financial help has come by way of generous donations from Dixie Power and Mesquite Gaming but they’ve a long way to go.

one of two other rooms off of the main in the interior of the Old Littlefield Schoolhouse. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Before inside work can begin, the structure of the building needs to be stabilized; the Littlefield Schoolhouse was originally constructed of adobe block with no foundation. The Schoppman’s  say that the cost can run up to $100,000 but they and board members are looking into an alternative stabilization system that is successfully used to stabilize homes in hurricane zones and much less expensive.

Inside main room of Old Littlefield Schoolhouse. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Many residents have already volunteered to contribute artifacts from their pioneer forefathers to be displayed in the museum area and the Schoppmans have plenty of their own to add to the display.

The need for a community meeting space is also great and for a nominal fee the new space can be rented for a variety of meetings and events. There are three rooms off the main room that have potential for office use or more intimate gatherings but plans for the specific uses aren’t set in stone yet.

The board needs to gather the money to continue the project and that’s where the community comes in. They are asking that you help in any way you can, every dollar matters. Donations are tax deductible and you’ll be helping preserve the history.

For more information or to send a donation you can write to the Old Littlefield School House, P.O. Box 116 Littlefield, AZ 86432.

Comments

  1. Chris Grzywinski says:

    I went to school in that building

  2. Helenea Rey says:

    Some of my best memories were going to school here! We were some of the last. I love that it is getting a makeover! Looking forward to seeing the results!

  3. GAIL L ALBANESE says:

    I have wonderful memories of working for Littlefield School District 1995 to 2005 in the cafeteria. Moving to the new school was very exciting. But it was also a bittersweet move for me. I loved the old school. So happy to hear it is being restored.

  4. Steve MacIntyre says:

    Where is the Old LIttlefield Schoolhouse located?

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