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School House circa 1890s

Historical Significance

Adams Chapel School was built in 1898 for the education of the children of the large Adams family in rural Barbour County at a time when public education did not exist in most rural areas. In 1898, Arthur Gilbert Adams donated land to build this one room schoolhouse. Most school teachers at this time were men or unmarried women and Adams Chapel School had many teachers during its fifty years. Teachers did not have to have a college degree but did have to pass a test given by the local school board. The average teacher pay was $18 to $25 per month. The first school master was Alpheus Reid Adams, the younger brother of Arthur Gilbert Adams and when the school closed in 1948 that teacher was also a member of the Adams family. 

In rural Alabama, the school year was 62 to 68 days and was scheduled around farming seasons. It started after harvest in late October and ended before the spring planting. The school day was 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with time for recess and lunch. Grades one through seven were taught in this school, which was as far as most students went in rural communities. McGuffey Readers and Blueback Spellers were used. Students often had to provide their own books and desks. They used slate boards and soft stone pencils for their work and occasionally paper and ink. Students were given chores like sweeping, mixing ink, cleaning windows, and fetching firewood. 

Architectural Specifications

The Adams Chapel School was built to the specifications of the State Board of Education, which recommended that schools face north with windows on the west side to allow for the best light for handwriting. The simple gabled building was situated with a series of windows that provided this proper lighting in an area with no electricity. With students facing north, the teacher discouraged the use of the left hand which would cast shadows upon their writing. Set on cypress stumps, the sturdy schoolhouse withstood the ravages of weather and hundreds of children for over fifty years. During the restoration, a color analyst examined the structure expecting the exterior be red but was shocked when the report came back denoting green as the original color of the School.

Adams Chapel School was moved to Old Alabama Town in September 1982.