What is with the small schoolhouse on campus?

By Emily Driskel, News Editor


While walking to classes on the EWU campus, students pass by the one room schoolhouse that sits across the path from Williamson Hall and the campus mall. The small white building is also known as the Cheney Normal School Heritage Center which holds historical value for the EWU community. 

In 1890, EWU became a teacher’s college. According to the EWU website, in 1937, the school became known as the Eastern Washington College of Education. Teaching individuals how to educate others has always been a large part of EWU’s history. In 2004, the one room schoolhouse was opened to the public to represent the history of learning in Cheney. 

The Easterner looked through archives of how the one room schoolhouse came to be an important landmark on the Cheney campus. Originally, the 20 foot by 40 foot building was called the Jore school and was located in Newport, WA. 

The schoolhouse traveled across the country to it’s final resting place at EWU. (Eastern Archives)

The individual in charge of the project was Charles E. Miller, a professor of education at EWU. He was passionate about honoring EWU as a place where individuals were trained to teach. He established a committee to find a one-room schoolhouse for the Cheney campus.

When traveling with his wife, Miller found the Jore Schoolhouse in Newport, WA. The school was used for students during the first part of the 1900s and had been closed since 1929. He enjoyed the bell tower and separate entrances for boys and girls to represent the accuracy of a schoolhouse’s structure. 

Once Miller got the decision to move the schoolhouse which was approved by the EWU president Stephen Jordan, he could focus on finding how to pay for the cost of renovations and the 50 mile drive from Newport to Spokane. 

The schoolhouse was renovated to resemble it’s original appearance. (Eastern Archives)

The plan was to have the building represent the original schoolhouse. Many renovations still needed to be made including a new roof, windows, bell tower and porch. Indoor plumbing was added as well. The overall cost was around $120,000.

The Cheney Normal School Heritage serves several purposes to the EWU community. The schoolhouse is open as a museum, educational tours, presentations relating to education in one-room schoolhouses, restoring traditions of the past and a permanent location to store artifacts. 

According to the EWU website, around 5,000 visitors have set foot in the schoolhouse over the years. Tours are still held in the building and are offered by the Education Department. For more information, visit https://www.ewu.edu/cpp/education/one-room-school-house/