Founded in 1886 as a community project, the Little Red Schoolhouse was the first schoolhouse in southeast Florida. Its first seven “scholars were taught by Miss Hattie Gale, the 16-year old daughter of the Reverend Elbridge Gale, former Professor of Horticulture at Kansas State Agriculture College who came to the Lake Worth area Florida to be a minister and local botanist.
In its original location, approximately one mile north of the Royal Poinciana Bridge, on Lake Trail in Palm Beach, the first school served the children of all the families around Lake Worth. Children arrived by boat, bicycle, or on foot, and were taught together in one room. In the 1890s enrollment rose to 35 students including many pioneer names such as Dimick, Maddock, and Reese.
Palm Beach’s one room school ceased operation in 1901 after which it became a tool shed on the John S. Phipps property. Its subsequent history was one of decline and deterioration. In 1960 the Gardener’s Society of Palm Beach refurbished it and the Town of Palm Beach moved the structure to Phipps Ocean Park where it stands today. The school was unused until the Preservation of Palm Beach proposed to lease the school house in 1990 for its pioneer education program.
Today, the Little Red Schoolhouse is home to The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s “living history” program that takes children back in time for a mini-day in a one-room school of the 1890s. Education in America’s one-room schoolhouses stressed discipline, moral values and the three Rs. Modern Little Red Schoolhouse “scholars” will trace Spencerian script in their copybooks and participate in a spelling bee. They will also recite from Tom Sawyer, Little Women and The Ancient Mariner, as well as McGuffey’s Readers. Furnished with period pioneer education artifacts, the Little Red Schoolhouse provides children with a true early American educational experience.
To watch a short film about a class field trip to the Little Red Schoolhouse please click play below