CHATSWORTH — A piece of history is ready to roll down the streets of Chatsworth.

Am 1858, one-room schoolhouse has been lifted from its foundation in Chatsworth Area Planning Society Park and will soon be set down on a new lot on Locust Street, about four blocks away.

“At its current location, it wasn’t being well-maintained and was starting to deteriorate,” said Chatsworth Mayor Richard Runyon. “In order to properly care for it, we thought it’d be best to bring it to the center of town where it will get more attention.”

The schoolhouse is recognized as The Little School Museum and is often visited by local students and history buffs.

According to the Chatsworth Illinois Memories website, the schoolhouse was the first education facility built in the Livingston County town, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

The white building has a classic schoolhouse look, with a bell steeple, slim front porch and tall windows. There is an assortment of  historic collectibles inside, rows of antique school desks, an original pump organ and wood stove.

A larger school was built in 1870, but the smaller building was still used to teach children of the workers at a nearby beet factory. It was dubbed the “Beet School.” The one-room schoolhouse was used until 1942.

Additions were made to the larger school building, including a high school wing. Eventually, those buildings were razed, but the small schoolhouse remained.

The building was moved twice in the past before being restored and dedicated as a museum in 1976.

The moving of the school is a community project, mostly organized by the Chatsworth Historical Society. Runyon said the move is being delayed "until the weather cooperates" and wind gusts die down. 

Once moved to the spot on Locust Street, the building will sit on a new foundation and heating and air conditioning will be added.  

Runyon said the schoolhouse will be one of four museums within walking distance on Chatsworth’s main street. Others include The Hangar Museum for agriculture equipment, The Caboose railroad museum and Bluebird Hall.

“It will sit across from Bluebird Hall which was a total wreck when it was given to us, but we refurbished it and added a kitchen and bathrooms. The walls are covered with memorabilia,” said Runyon.

The exterior of The Little School Museum probably will be upgraded with a fence and landscaping, added the mayor.

“Having this many historic places and museums in town shows that we’re growing,” he said. “After we lost our high school the population declined, but things are getting better. Houses are starting to sell and we’re organizing a local police force which we haven’t had since the ‘90s."

"We’re back to doing things right. Chatsworth is growing again.”

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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