Cave Spring School – Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery - Sarcoxie, Missouri
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 37° 06.652 W 094° 03.810
15S E 405510 N 4107700
Quick Description: Historic one-room schoolhouse in the Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery historic district near Sarcoxie, Missouri.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 4/8/2015 6:33:16 PM
Waymark Code: WMNNGW
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Long Description:

The Cave Spring School is a one-story brick Mass Vernacular school with a steeply pitched front gable and a wood shingle roof. The simple rectangular plan building sits on a limestone foundation and has a footprint of approximately 21’ X 40.’ (?). A fullwidth hipped roof porch, added in c. 1937 (the construction date is written in the cement of the steps), extends across the façade. It has a concrete base and simple square posts. Rafter tails are exposed along the eaves. The porch is deep allowing room for a long-handled pump connected by pipe to Cave Spring, a portion of which runs below the school. The porch also shelters the school’s two front doors, one for girls and one for boys. The two doors have three vertical divided lights over three horizontal panels. The doors are not original, but likely date the 1941 remodeling of the building. A flagpole is centered in front of the building immediately adjacent to the porch steps. Next to it is a small stone marker commemorating the history of the school and its restoration in 2007…

The interior of the school is one large room with plaster walls and simple wood moldings around doors and windows. The ceiling is grid work of thin wood panels with 1940s era light fixtures. The floors are polished tongue and groove oak boards. The school retains furnishing typical of early-20th century rural schools. A blackboard lines the (west) wall and wraps the corners of the room to the first window on the north and south walls. A teacher’s desk is centered in front of the blackboard and there are four rows of fixed cast iron and wood student desks. The desks graduate in height with the smallest near the front of the classroom. Bookcases line the north wall and there is a wood-burning (non-functioning) cast iron stove in the northeast corner. A built-in storage cupboard is attached to the east wall between the two doors.…

The early history of the Cave Spring School like that of the Cave Spring settlement is murky, at best. The History of Jasper County, published in 1883, cites it as the second school in Sarcoxie Township (possibly in the county) and gives 1840 as the date of its organization. The first terms of the school may have been held in a log building ¼ to ½ mile northwest of its current location. This is gleaned from an account of Mrs. H. J. McPhatridge who in 1861 lived “close to the old log school house northwest of Cave Springs.” Construction or reuse of a log building for school purposes was common in Missouri’s settlement and early statehood period, and most were replaced as time and funding allowed.

The original log school was used only for a short time before a substantial brick schoolhouse was constructed on the current site, ostensibly to be closer to water. The date of construction for the new schoolhouse varies widely from 1838 to c. 1850.

There are several references to the school being owned and used by the Methodist Episcopal Church. William Duncan was licensed as a Methodist exhorter (lay minister, usually under the supervision of a circuit rider) in 1846…

The history of the Cave Spring School during the Civil War is more concrete. Like many rural schools during the duration of the war, formal educational activities essentially ceased outside of large cities. At Cave Spring, they not only ceased teaching but the school was taken over in 1862 by Capt. Green Stotts and his Company C of the 76th Regiment, Enrolled Militia (state supported Union forces). Stotts used the school as the company headquarters until the end of the war in 1865. Cave Springs may have attracted the small Union garrison for several reasons, notably its ready supply of water, the small pocket of Union sympathizers in the area, and the sturdily built brick schoolhouse…

Civil War related activity at Cave Springs adds an interesting layer to the school’s history, but was not kind to the building itself. To secure the school, “Loopholes were cut through the walls for musketry fire, [and] strong abattis of felled trees with sharpened branches pointing outwards prevented any sudden charge by mounted men.” Holes knocked through the walls and hard use throughout the war years left the schoolhouse compromised structurally…

Despite its deteriorated condition, at the close of the Civil War the school still had some advantages. It was made of brick and it was still standing, unlike the courthouse in the Jasper County seat of Carthage. Prior to the war, Carthage and Sarcoxie were Jasper County’s two largest towns, but both sustained damage during various battles and skirmishes—notably the burning of the courthouse in 1863. The destruction of these two communities may have been the reason that the Missouri Governor appointed Cave Springs as the temporary seat of Jasper County government in 1865.

When the Jasper County Court met in October 1865, they convened at Cave Spring School. There they began the critical work of reorganizing county government and reconstituting its records and finances...

By October 1866 Carthage, the county seat, had recovered to the extent that the county and circuit court were moved back to the more centrally located city. Cave Springs School returned to the business of serving as a church and educating the youth of the community. [An inspection of the building 1873 by the Jasper County school superintendent from the building to be inadequate to be school and recommended it to be replaced] The Cave Spring school district did not take immediate action on the Superintendent’s comments, nor did they build a new school from the ground up. Instead in c.1875 the district repaired and reconfigured the existing school reusing many of the original materials. The remodeled schoolhouse sat on the original limestone block foundation, but the fireplace was removed in favor of solid walls and more efficient heating stoves. The remodeling may have been completed, in part, by the builder of the original brick school, William Duncan.…

The last significant alteration to the school occurred in the mid-1930s and/or early 1940s. It is generally held that the large front porch was added to the building in 1937, but it may have been constructed in response to deficiencies in the school outlined by the Jasper County Health Department on December 29, 1941.

The c. 1940s era upgrades to the school extended its life and usefulness for nearly three more decades. The building continued to be used as a public school until it was consolidated with the Sarcoxie school district in 1966...

Little is reported on the community’s reaction to the closing of the school. However, very soon after the school consolidated former teachers and students rallied to preserve the history embodied by the building. In 1967, the Sarcoxie R-3 School District and the heirs of some of Cave Spring’s original land owners transferred the school and grounds to the Eastern Jasper County Historic Sites Association. Despite hard work and annual work days, lack of funds prevented needed maintenance and upkeep on the building. By 2005, the school was seriously deteriorated. To spur interest in preserving the school, Helen Hunter nominated the school to the list of Missouri’s most endangered properties. Reaction to its designation as an endangered property garnered statewide recognition and local response. Soon donations of time and labor helped secure the building, and a $50,000 grant from the Pat and Carolyn Phelps Foundation of Carthage assisted in the completion of the restoration. Today the school stands as an important reminder of Jasper County’s settlement period, Civil War period, and its dedication to education. Living history projects and other programs help to continues its educational and social function.

– National Register Nomination

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

4323 Cty. Rd. 4 Sarcoxie, Missouri

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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