Hoggatt School


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

Open Summer Sundays (closed for the season now)

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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 History Museum).  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.


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.


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. 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. Furnishings include vintage objects (teacher's desk, bell) as well as hand-made reproductions (34-star flag, students’ school desks).


  • 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.