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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, facing south.

Portal School, facing south.

Portal School, facing west.

Portal School, facing west.

Portal School, facing north.

Portal School, facing north.

Portal School, facing east.

Portal School, facing east.

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.[1] 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.[2] One-room schoolhouses allowed the children from rural families the opportunity for education otherwise unavailable--or available only to those who moved to town.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

This one-room schoolhouse continued its intended function until May of 1993, when the district finally ended the school’s use.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] Local fourth graders are brought there on field trips to learn what one-room schoolhouses and pioneer life was like.[9] Throughout the rest of the year it is used in multiple different community activities, including Papillion’s Winter Wonderland every winter.


[1] “PORTAL SCHOOL,” Papillion Area Historical Society, accessed March 26, 2018,

[2] “Portal School Celebrates 125 Years,” Papillion Times, May 27, 2015, Accessed March 26, 2018,

[3] “The One-Room Country Schools,” The Journal of Education 76, no. 19 (1904) (1912): 514–15, Accessed April 13, 2018.

[4] Jim Flanery, “Boom Could Be End of ‘Prairie School,’” Omaha World-Herald, October 29, 1978, sec. B - Midlands News, 1, accessed March 26, 2018.

[5] Jim McKee, “The One-Room Schoolhouse in Nebraska,” Lincoln Journal Star, May 5, 2013,, accessed April 13, 2018.

[6] “Portal School Celebrates 125 Years.”

[7] “Portal School.”

[8] “Portal School.”

[9] “Old Portal School,” Papillion La Vista Schools Foundation, accessed April 5, 2018,

Flanery, Jim. "Boom Could Be End of 'Prairie School'." Omaha World Herold October 29, 1978. Sunday World Herold, Midlands News, 1-B-4B. Accessed March 26, 2018.

McKee, Jim. “The One-Room Schoolhouse in Nebraska.”, May 5, 2013. Accessed April 13, 2018.

“The One-Room Country Schools.” The Journal of Education 76, no. 19 (1904) (1912): 514–15. Accessed April 13, 2018.

Portal School. Papillion Area Historical Society. Accessed March 26, 2018.

"Portal School celebrates 125 years." Papillion Times May 27, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2018.

“Supporting Students | Programs | Old Portal School.” Papillion La Vista Schools Foundation. Accessed March 26, 2018.