The History of Oak Hill School 1886-2006
When road construction and "progress" threatened to reduce it a pile of sticks, the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum took the initiative to insure that all was not lost to the bull dozer by raising support in an attempt to save this historic structure. There was no lack of support for this effort, however a lack of funds did seem to have a death grip on efforts to get the building moved to a safer place. After all, moving a building is no easy task nor is it inexpensive. Cost for moving a complete building off it's foundation and transporting it for any distance can run into figures that would rival the national debt of some small countries. But thanks to kind and generous individuals who knew the value of such a building as this, Oak Hill school found that is was not forgotten and discovered new friends in the process. Several donations were made from private individuals and families to support getting this building moved. To spare you the details of all that's involved in moving a structure such as this, suffice it to say that once sufficient funds were in hand the moving crew loaded up the building and hauled it 7 miles to it's new location behind the visitors center in Jonesborough.
As a celebration of the contributions that this school made to East Tennessee and Washington County, each year the remaining former students of Oak Hill gather at the building's new location for a reunion to reminisce and share stories with the public on life in a one room school house. These remaining members of a time gone by provided vital input on how the building appeared when it was in use as a school. Today the building looks just as it did in th1880's's. With Jonesborough being the home of the National Storytelling Festival this is so very fitting that this building would come home to share it's stories with us. The Oak Hill School Heritage Education Program was established and is a "living classroom" which allows a student to spend the day experiencing the life of a young person in 1892. Reading , Writing, Arithmetic, History, Geography, even the pledge is all as it was prior to the turn of the last century. The curriculum is based on the detailed 1892-1893 diary of a Washington County TN School Superintendent. Students gain an understanding of the lives of their peers through this glimpse of a typical school day. Designed for a single classroom, a day at Oak Hill School is an experience students will not soon forget. Even my own son had the chance to be taught in this building a few years ago when all the restoration work was completed. The story of Oak Hill School is still being written in the faces of young students each day when they are transported back into history. (photos from the ETSU Center for Appalachian Studies and Services)