Monday, September 9, 2013

Old Sodom Schoolhouse

I have driven by this old building so often through the years, yet didn't know much about it.  Until today, that is.  This historical gem is located just three miles from my home, and when I passed by it on my way to an appointment, I determined to take a picture and learn more about it.

Since it does not appear as if the building is open for public viewing, I was forced to do a bit of internet research to learn about this unique structure.

Built around 1815, the Sodom Schoolhouse, sometimes called the Octagonal Schoolhouse, was constructed by Scotch-Irish settlers and precedes the Pennsylvania's Common School Act of 1834.  The Methodists of Sodom were the Sodomites who built and used the building.  It is located just three miles east of Lewisburg on route 45 in central Pennsylvania.

A local tavern owner, Lot Carson, donated the materials.  The organization and construction of the building was the work of the locals, as was typical before government programs were established.

This school was built to serve 40 to 60 students, but often accommodated up to 100.  Students within a three mile radius attended.

Limestone quarried nearby was used to build the single story structure.  It has a single chimney in the center of the roof, seven windows, and one door facing the road on the south side.

A cupola and bell once stood above the front door, and a vestibule was formerly attached where the children hung their coats.

The inside walls were painted slate grey, and a wood burning stove stood in the center.

On the north wall was a blackboard, with a 30 foot long, 10 foot wide, and 8-10 inch elevated platform for the teacher.  The teacher's desk and chair were painted red.

Two recitation benches faced the platform.  Six long rough desks were placed parallel to the side walls and two more were placed in the center of the room.

The building was multi-purpose throughout the 19th century.  It was used as a Methodist Church on Sundays until 1858, a public meeting house for political meetings and elections, and a school until 1915.

The Sodomites no longer meet there, nor do they own the building.  The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) now owns the Sodom Schoolhouse, the only known memorial to the former Sodom Community in Pennsylvania.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it must have been like to attend school in a one room schoolhouse long ago.  My how far we've come nowadays.

I suppose we could look at it another way:  could those students even imagine 100 years ahead to a time when every student had access to a laptop computer?  Now there's something to think about...


  1. Why is it so hard for us to discover all the history that is so close to home for us. What a neat piece of history that school house represents. Can't imagine 100 students in there at one time though.

  2. Looking at the picture of that building, I can't imagine that building holding a hundred students at a time. They would have to be packed in like sardines in a can. You would need that chimney in the center to let out all the hot air (grin).

  3. I did attend school for a few years in a one room school, all eight grades, it was a totally different world back then. Can't really say it is better now by any means.

  4. Interesting history of the stone one room school. I often wonder when we pass an old structure what was it for and who lived there.

  5. That limestone was sure worth every penny they invested, it served the community well and long!