Portal School is an original one-room schoolhouse from 1890. Originally located in the township of Portal outside of Papillion, Nebraska, the schoolhouse now resides in downtown Papillion after being purchased by the Papillion Area Historical Society and relocated. It is currently used as a meeting place for the historical society, and for field trips to teach students about rural one-room school houses.
Portal School, or Portal School 22, labelled such because of
its school district, is a one-room schoolhouse originally built in 1890 in the
township of Portal just outside of Papillion, Nebraska. The school was built to
serve the families that lived in Portal, which had become more populated thanks
to its proximity to the new Union Pacific rail line. The township was abandoned
around the turn of the century because of flooding that frequented the area.
Portal School itself, however, was moved to a location outside of flood threat
in 1908 and continued to be used by local farm families. One-room schoolhouses
allowed the children from rural families the opportunity for education otherwise unavailable--or available only to those who moved to town.
During its time as a functioning school, Portal School struggled
to remain open. In the late 1970s, student numbers hung in the low single
digits, and families feared that Portal School and all of District 22 might be forced to
merge with the Papillion School District. Miraculously enough, the
small school lasted fifteen more years.
From 1986 to 1995 the number of one-room schoolhouse still
in use in the state of Nebraska dropped from 385, the most of any state in the
country, to 200. The number continued to dwindle, 128 in 2000, and only 75 in
2005. By 2012 all of Nebraska's remaining one-room schoolhouses had closed.
This one-room schoolhouse continued its intended function
until May of 1993, when the district finally ended the school’s use. It sat empty until 1995,
when the Papillion Area Historical Society purchased the building, at the price
of one dollar, and moved it to its current location in downtown Papillion
on North Jefferson Street.
At its new resting place, the old building has taken on a
new job. Thanks to preservation and restoration
efforts, Portal School has been a teaching tool for the community of Papillion.
It houses the Papillion Area Historical Society and is used as their meeting
place. Local fourth graders are
brought there on field trips to learn what one-room schoolhouses and pioneer
life was like.
Throughout the rest of the year it is used in multiple different community
activities, including Papillion’s Winter Wonderland every winter.
“The One-Room Country Schools,” The Journal of Education 76, no. 19
(1904) (1912): 514–15, Accessed April 13, 2018.
“Portal School Celebrates 125 Years.”