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11-24-15 — Limestone Sign Graces Historical Schoolhouse Site

Nov. 24, 2015 ~ A one-room schoolhouse that opened in the late 1800s now has a historical marker attesting to its age. Visitors to the little white Walnut Grove School on the campus of Walnut Grove Elementary School at 118th Street and Pflumm now know the building first held classes in 1878.

Local Boy Scout Brandon Fagen was seeking ideas for an Eagle Scout project around the same time Walnut Grove kindergarten teacher Joanie Hulse wanted someone to make a sign for the schoolhouse. The building last held classes in 1951 when it sat just a couple of blocks north and was moved to its current location in the 1980s. It is currently being used for school field trips featuring local history.

photo of one-room schoolhouse and inset photo of limestone sign that says Walnut Grove School Est. 1878 Fagen and Hulse both turned to Overland Park Church of Christ for help with their searches about a year ago and the church matched up their needs.

Hulse had ideas for what the sign should look like: name of the school, date it was established, carved in limestone. Fagen needed to plan and complete a major project to earn his Eagle Scout rank. He found someone to carve the stone and install it on a concrete base in front of the schoolhouse, raised some money for the project, got the appropriate permits with help from Walnut Grove Principal Lynne Ann Borchers, and planted low-maintenance flowers around the base.

"I went to Suburban Lawn and Garden and found some plants that would look nice and were drought-resistant and rabbit-resistant," Fagen said. "For the front plants I chose ground creepers that won't grow very tall."

Borchers and Hulse are excited about the addition to the Walnut Grove one-room schoolhouse site. This is the latest in a series of projects that included major restoration of the building in summer 2012 and the planting of a Western Soapberry tree sapling taken from a 150-year-old tree in Olathe. The building is also listed on the Olathe Register of Historic Places.

"We hope to continue to raise awareness of the schoolhouse and encourage classes to take a field trip to visit the one-room schoolhouse," Borchers said. "Book clubs have used it for meetings and other groups have requested to take photos in and around it."