Hoggatt School


Meeker School grounds at 18th Street and Burnett Avenue, Ames, Iowa

Open 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Sundays, June 10 through August 12, 2018

Check out our calendar of events for more information about Hoggatt events on Sundays this summer!

Contact us to obtain more information, schedule tours, volunteer as docent, or make donations

View a video about Hoggatt School. (large MP4 file - 42MB)

The first schoolhouse in the vicinity was built in 1862 to serve area residents before the city of Ames was established.  The acquisition, move, and restoration of this school were the driving forces in the founding of the Ames Heritage Association (now Ames Historical Society).  In 1981, the one-room log-frame building was moved from 1008 3rd Street, where it had been incorporated into a dwelling, to its present site. Hundreds of visitors are welcomed at the school each season, and entire classes can be accommodated for an unforgettable living history experience.  Out of a total of 53 remaining one-room schools in Story County, Hoggatt is one of four preserved as museums. The other three are: Halley School in Nevada, Sheldall School in Story City, and Thorson School in Roland.


Schools were built by pioneer settlers after their homes and before their churches were constructed.  Following this pattern, Hoggatt School was built 1861-1862 to serve a dozen students. Its original site was on one acre of land in Washington Township donated by Lucian Q. Hoggatt and his wife Abigail.  In terms of present-day landmarks, the site would have been on the north side of Lincoln Way at the intersection with Maple Avenue, with the center-line of Lincoln Way forming the south line of the site.  Exactly where on the site the school was placed is unknown. Construction cost was recorded as $121.72.

Several Ames churches trace their roots to the Hoggatt School building.  A Union Sunday School was organized there in 1863 with Thomas Grayson as its first superintendent.  Methodist circuit riders used the school as one of ten preaching points on the Bloomington Circuit which stretched from Iowa Center to Story City. Rev. Mr. Doran and Rev. Mr. Hankins were among the first Methodist circuit riders.  Ames became an official part of that circuit in 1865, the same year the Congregational Church was organized.  A Presbyterian preacher, Isaiah Reed, came from Nevada about once a month to preach here. In 1868, the First Baptist Church of Ames was organized.  Prior to formal organization, their records indicate the "... there is no church building for the little congregation so their meeting place became the Hoggatt School house located on the east bank of Squaw Creek."

The school was moved several times before its final relocation to the grounds of Meeker School.  In 1893 it was moved further north and west for use as a dwelling near Riverside Drive, and in 1900 it was moved to 1008 4th (now 3rd) Street on land purchased by Synthia V. Stoops. Also at this time a two-story section was added, and the schoolhouse was incorporated as a kitchen and dining room.  Mrs. Bernidean Woodley, the last renter of the house, was told by landlord Synthia Stoops that the single-story part of the house was originally the 1860s Hoggatt School.

The property was purchased January 31, 1964 from the estate of Mrs. Stoops by Mike Rolling, who continued to rent the house to the Woodleys.  In 1978 Mr. Rolling decided to remove the house in preparation for making commercial use of the property.  At this time Farwell Brown visited Mrs. Woodley and confirmed that the house did indeed incorporate the original Hoggatt School. Verification was sought from Iowa State University experts who agreed that the materials and construction were consistent with the 1861 date.  Wood samples were confirmed by the ISU Forestry Department to be native to the area of Squaw Creek bottom land. Mr. Rolling donated the house to the Ames Heritage Association in 1980.


The first students consisted mostly of children from two pioneer families: Hoggatt and Fitchpatrick.  The Hoggatt children were probably Rebecca (12), John (12), William (8), Rhonda (6), or Sarah (4).  Fitchpatricks may have included John (17), Mary (14), Martha (11), Sarah (8) or Nancy (4).  Records are incomplete as to which ones were in the beginning term at Hoggatt School.


Hoggatt School played a dual role, first as a country school, and then as the first educational building in the city of Ames.  The first teacher was 22-year old Sarah Jane Emery, who signed a teaching contract in 1862 and taught grades one through eight.  She boarded at the Farm House, the first structure on the campus of Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University).  As the fledgling village of Ames grew, it needed its own school.  Thus Hoggatt School was taken over by the city in 1867, and Henry May became the first Ames teacher.  Eventually Ames built a two-story structure and Hoggatt School lost its function.


Readin’ and ‘ritten’ and ‘rithmetic, as the song goes, certainly formed the core curriculum of a rural one-room school.  Subjects actually taught in the 1860s, while immensely practical, prepared students for coping with life upon graduating from eighth grade.  The standard list includes:

  • Reading (Articulation) and English Grammar
  • Recitation
  • Geography and History
  • Arithmetic
  • Spelling (Orthography) and Penmanship
  • Science


The most popular set of readers was unquestionably McGuffey’s.  Issued along with Ray’s Arithmetic as part of the Eclectic Series, these were often the only textbooks available in the log schoolhouses of the pioneers.  They formed the foundation stone of learning from about 1830-1890 and were the basic schoolbooks in 37 states.  By 1901, the Readers had sold more than 120 million copies.  Following the frontier westward, McGuffey’s Readers crossed the Pacific and appeared in Japanese and Spanish translations. The readers consisted of six books in ascending difficulty.  Each lesson contained a story, picture, and later study questions.  In daily classroom use, reading aloud was favored, with stress on articulation, inflection, pauses, and emphasis.

William Holmes McGuffey (or M’Guffey as it was sometimes spelled), was of  Calvinist Scottish ancestry, and believed that the teaching of morals should be an important feature of his readers.  Consequently the youth of the frontier not only had their first exposure to culture and learning, but also were taught that crime doesn’t pay and that only the good become rich and happy.  Unfortunately, McGuffey never became wealthy himself.  Although his books made several publishers millionaires, very little of the millions filtered into McGuffey’s pockets.  He received $3,000 for his first three readers, and a barrel of hams each Christmas when the publisher had an annual attack of conscience after paying him a pittance for one of his later editions.

McGuffey’s great achievement was his innovation in the manner of teaching reading.  Up to 1830, children were taught spelling and reading from texts of archaic and English or New England origin, dull in content and lacking any common ground with settler’s children.  McGuffey furnished a lively narrative written for an agrarian population using the idiom of the people to point out morals from everyday life.


English Grammar

Geography and History


Spelling and Penmanship


Rewards of Merit

Rewards of Merit


Hoggatt School was moved to the grounds of Meeker Elementary School in April, 1981, and underwent restoration until 1983.  It now stands restored to very nearly its original appearance. To prepare the site, a foundation of native stones was laid down and the structure set upon it.  Although not obvious from the outside, the original rough-sawn, 4 x 4 red elm framing and hand-hewn oak timbers reside just under the siding.  Square nails were used to join boards together.  Windows and shutters are made to resemble the originals. Two layers of more recent flooring were removed to reveal the original, worn birch floorboards. Walls have been replastered, but with some areas left to help indicate the age of the structure, including a small section revealing the original lath. Wainscoting as well as chalk troughs were recovered from the old Bloomington country school northeast of Ames.  A reproduction iron wood-burning stove, woodbox,  and brick chimney complete the heating system.  The chimney is made of bricks salvaged from the old Ames High School and is mounted on a bracket.  The cupboard provides structural support for the chimney and reduces the number of bricks needed as well.

Furnishings include vintage objects (schoolmarm’s desk, bell) as well as hand-made reproductions (34-star flag, students’ school desks).  The period teacher’s desk dominating the front of the room was obtained from a one-room school in southern Iowa. The brass school bell was used in the 1890s and came from the old Ray School, located about halfway between Ames and Gilbert.  Student desks from the 1860s proved to be extremely difficult to find, so designs were obtained from the Smithsonian Institution and the desks were constructed by Herbert Hatch, former principal of Meeker School.  Inkwells are old and very fragile. The recitation bench blackboards are exactly that -- boards painted black, not slate.  Individual slates and slate pencils are set on desks for visitors to try.  Old textbooks may be examined as well.  Kerosene bracket lamps with reflectors are mounted on the side walls. An authentic Waterbury school clock manufactured in the 1870s actually runs.  The obligatory dunce cap and stool and traditional portraits of Washington and Lincoln complete the ambiance. A 4 x 6’ woodshed constructed of weathered barn boards was added west of the school in 1984.  An outhouse is noticeably absent.


The dedication (more appropriately re-dedication) took place on May 22, 1983, with former Meeker School principal, Herbert R. Hatch, presiding.  The program:

by Meeker School Chorus, Fred Anderson, conducting

Introductory Remarks
F. Terrill Adams, president Ames Heritage Association

Farwell T. Brown, former president Ames Heritage Association

Meeker School Chorus

Dedicatory Statement
David L. Moorhead, former superintendent, Ames Public Schools

Observation on Uses of School
Paul Masem, superintendent, Ames Public Schools

Closing Music
student instrumental group and audience

Invitation to inspect Hoggatt Building
Polly Gossard, Suzanne Kelly and Robert Glenn, in 1860s costumes


During re-enactment of 1860s school day activities, many visitors ask why the familiar Pledge of Allegiance is not recited.  In fact, that pledge was not created until the year 1892.  It was written for children during the summer of that year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the famous voyage of Christopher Columbus.  The Youth’s Companion for September 8, 1892, contained the first appearance of the pledge in print.  Authored by Francis Bellamy of Rome, N.Y., it was intended to be a one-time recitation.  As its popularity grew, the verse became an annual Columbus Day tradition, then finally a daily classroom ritual.

In its original form, the pledge read:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

In 1923, at the request of the United States Flag Association, the Flag of the United States of America was added to replace my Flag.

Not until 1954 were the words under God included by a bill signed by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, thereby adding a religious tone to the pledge.


An 1862 Hoggatt School Day, a 27-minute, VHS videotape or DVD in color is available. This re-enactment by costumed local school children and teacher documents a typical day at Hoggatt.  Activities include : opening the school, bringing in water and firewood, taking attendance, assigning tasks, giving lessons, hearing recitations, disciplining, recessing, and sweeping out at day’s end.


  • 1846 - Iowa becomes a state
  • 1861 - A one-acre site is deeded by Lucien and Abigail Hoggatt for a school; Abraham Lincoln becomes president and the Civil War begins
  • 1861-62 - Hoggatt School is built.
  • 1862 - In June, Hoggatt School opens its door to 12 students, mostly children of two pioneer families
  • 1864 - Ames is platted and named after Massachusetts congressman, Oakes Ames. About 100 residents live in the new town.
  • 1865 - Construction of the railroad reaches Ames and continues west.
  • 1867 - Ames has grown large enough that it needs a school of its own.  Washington and Grant townships are considered one township for this purpose with each township paying one half of the expense of maintaining the school.  Hoggatt School becomes the first schoolhouse in the Ames School District with Henry May as its first teacher.
  • 1868 - The townships are divided and 6 year-old Hoggatt School is abandoned.  On the south side of Ames, a two-story frame school is built to handle the numerous children of Ames.  It costs $450.00 and consists of two rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs.
  • 1870 - Ames is incorporated in January, with a few hundred for population.
  • 1892 - The new pledge of allegiance to the American flag is written
  • 1893 - The Hoggatt School area is subdivided and Maple made a street, necessitating the move of the school further north and west near Squaw Creek and Riverside Drive
  • 1900 - Hoggatt School is again moved and incorporated into a dwelling at 1008 3rd  Street.
  • 1980 - The owner of the house, Mike Rolling, starts tearing it down to make way for an extension of Mike’s Body Shop.  Hoggatt School is rediscovered inside that structure, and Rolling offers it to the Society.
  • 1981 - In April, Hoggatt School is moved to its present location on the Warren H. Meeker Elementary School playground and restored.
  • 1983 - Hoggatt School is dedicated on May 22nd.