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Located five miles north of Pocahontas (Randolph County) in the Brockett community is the Cedar Grove School No. 81. The school opened after a redistricting of Randolph County school districts in 1890 and offered classes through the eighth grade. The original school building served the local community until it was destroyed by a tornado on March 30, 1938. The building that replaced it held classes until the school district consolidated with the Pocahontas School District in 1949. After consolidation, the building served for a time as a meeting place for the Brockett Home Extension Club and as a community building.
Cedar Grove School No. 81 is a Greek Revival–style building with the original well house and outhouse. The well house also houses the school bell and is topped with a small cupola. The schoolhouse was built in a way that maximizes natural light through the high windows; the front of the building faces east and the back of the school faces west.
In November 1948, Arkansas passed Initiated Act No. 1, the School District Reorganization Act. This act restructured school districts throughout Arkansas and caused mass consolidation of small and rural schools, including those in Randolph County. Cedar Grove School District No. 81 was forced to consolidate and had to sign a petition to consolidate with Pocahontas School District, the nearest district. The petition was signed by twenty-three members of the Brockett community and was advertised in December 1948. The Pocahontas School Board (consisting of Charles Baker, Lawrence Dalton, A. F. Million, T. H. Mills, and R. P. Sallee) voted to accept the petition for consolidation on January 11, 1949. P. E. Buxton was Cedar Grove’s last teacher; the school consisted of twenty-two students when it closed.
The Pocahontas School District annexed the property containing Cedar Grove School No. 81 in 1949, but the property was deeded the next year to the Brockett Home Demonstration Club for $1 to serve as its meeting house. The Brockett Home Demonstration Club (formerly the Petit Extension Club) was organized in September 1935 and worked out of local members’ homes until it gained the use of the former school building. This group contributed many projects to the Brockett community. The club helped with home food production and preservation, homemaking skills, and making mattresses for community residents. A prominent member of the Brockett Home Demonstration Club, Ruth Sago, canvassed the community signing up customers for rural electricity.
Family reunions were also held at the Cedar Grove School building. According to former residents of the Brockett community, the school building was also the location for foxhunting meetings, during which demonstration club members hosted the Tri-County Fox Hunters Association, serving meals and providing camping for the hunters.
By 1994, the school building had deteriorated substantially. Members of the community voted to disconnect the electricity to save the building from wiring hazards. Subsequently, the Brockett community formed the Brockett Community Park and Museum, which was intended to rehabilitate the building. However, the plan to rehabilitate and convert Cedar Grove School No. 81 into a park and museum has not yet been initiated as of 2015. Cedar Grove School No. 81 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004.
For additional information:Baker, William D. Public Schools in the Arkansas Ozarks, 1920–1940. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.
“Cedar Grove School No.81.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/RA0100.nr.pdf (accessed May 19, 2015).
Dalton, Lawrence. History of Randolph County. Little Rock: Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, 1946.
Harding, Thomas. One-Room Schoolhouses of Arkansas as Seen through a Pinhole. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.
Zachary Elledge Jonesboro, Arkansas
Last Updated 3/8/2016
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