Little Red Schoolhouse (Charlotte Hall School, c. 1820)
On the Ground of St. Clement’s Island Museum
The Little Red Schoolhouse, built in the early 19th century, stands restored and preserved on the grounds of the St. Clement’s Island Museum. This humble little structure stands as a monument to education in early America, representing one of hundreds of one-room schoolhouses that have dotted our nation. Originally located on Thompson Corner Road in the Charlotte Hall area of St. Mary’s County, the land it sat on was purchased from the Edwards Family for $10 per acre. Records indicate that a good and substantial house of 16 feet square build of chestnut logs was erected for the sum of $150. These were the days of no electricity and no plumbing. Light came through the large windows and heat was provided by the wood-burning stove. Winter mornings were quite cold until the stove got hot. Water was only available by cranking an outdoor hand pump and the restroom was an outhouse - one for the boys and one for the girls. There was no cafeteria, no gymnasium, no air conditioning nor bus transportation. The students who went to school here lived a simpler life. Though vastly different from modern schools, students still learned the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The Little Red Schoolhouse was presented to the St. Clement’s Island Museum by the heirs of Maryland State Senator and member of the House of Delegates, Henry J. Fowler, Sr. Senator Fowler had attended the school in 1919. Many years later, Senator Fowler purchased the then-decrepit building from the St. Mary’s County Board of Education for $5. On October 25 of that year, the school was moved 3 miles from its original location to Horse Range Farm to be preserved as a museum. On April 17, 1991, the schoolhouse was moved to its current foundation on the St. Clement’s Island Museum grounds. Also donated were the building’s contents, including the desks and a picture of George Washington, and a replica "two-seater" outhouse. Sadly, none of the contents are from the original schoolhouse. The move itself was a community effort by volunteers, utility companies and local businesses. The caravan averaged a sedate 4 MPH on its 28 mile, 6-hour long trip as cables and wires were lifted to allow the 19-foot-high structure to pass underneath.
The Little Red Schoolhouse is open during the operating hours of the St. Clement’s Island Museum and is handicap accessible.