The new school year is right around the corner! Teachers and student across Denton County are preparing classrooms, gathering school supplies, and getting ready for their first day. Can you imagine what it was like to go to school a century ago, in a one-room schoolhouse with no electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing? This week’s blog tells the story of the Bloomfield Schoolhouse, one of Denton County’s few remaining historic one-room school buildings.
The Bloomfield School was originally built in 1880 in the town of Bloomfield, located 5 miles northwest of Pilot Point, in Cooke County. The school had two buildings, one on either side of the small town. Bloomfield School quickly became the center of educational, religious, and community activities for the population.
In 1888, a devastating tornado swept through the town, destroying both school buildings. A new structure was built in 1889, with prairie church style architecture; this included a steeple to hold a bell. The new Bloomfield Schoolhouse remained a community center, serving as the location for both school and church. In fact, it was the only church in the area for many years, until the opening of Mount Pleasant Church.
The Bloomfield Schoolhouse held spelling bees and plays, sharing its stage with nearby schools. It also hosted holiday parties, huge affairs where neighboring communities would gather for Thanksgiving dinner and to watch Santa deliver gifts on Christmas. The building was also the home of meetings for organizations like the Farm Labor Union.
In 1929, the students attending the Bloomfield School consolidated with the Union Grove school district, and the building’s use as a schoolhouse came to an end. Citizens petitioned the county judge to save the building from demolition, and the Bloomfield Schoolhouse remained as the town’s community center until 1976.
In 1976, the Bloomfield Schoolhouse was threatened with the creation of Lake Ray Roberts. Because of its location, it would have been inundated and destroyed by the lake. So, the building was relocated and given to the University of North Texas (called North Texas State University at the time) as part of a bicentennial tribute.
The university had planned to restore the schoolhouse and use it as a living history museum, but did not have enough funding to make it happen. So, the schoolhouse was moved to a temporary location on Highland Street, and then to the corner of Welch and Maple Street. During its time on campus, UNT started to restore the building. It was weatherproofed and repainted, and the floors and roof were repaired.
In 1993, the Bloomfield Schoolhouse was gifted to the City of Pilot Point, in hopes that the building could be fully restored and moved closer to its original location. The Bloomfield School-Cemetery Association worked to raise money to move the building; after three years, only half the money had been raised, so Byron and Bob Shipley loaned the rest.
So, in 1996, the Bloomfield Schoolhouse was moved one final time to its current location on Pilot Point’s historic square, in between the Pilot Point Library and the Chamber of Commerce. Pilot Point’s new Main Street History Committee took up the schoolhouse project, and after two years of restorations, opened it in 2004 as a Historic Living Schoolhouse.
With the opening, the Main Street History Committee launched a month-long event for Pilot Point preschool children to come to the schoolhouse for storytime, and for 4th graders to come learn 1890’s style English, ciphering, discipline. It was dedicated to providing a one-room, early 1900’s educational experience, serving as a living reminder of what school was like over 100 years ago.
Currently, the Bloomfield Schoolhouse is closed for renovation. The school desks and other artifacts inside the building have been moved to the Pilot Point “Clifton and Nadine Irick” Museum. You can visit the City of Pilot Point’s website for more information about the schoolhouse and museum.
All information in this blog was pulled from the Office of History & Culture’s records.