It’s difficult to imagine a time when school wasn’t compulsory or to envision a single teacher instructing seven grades together in one room, but there are those here in Calvert County who still remember that time and some who even attended The Port Republic School #7 before it closed in 1932.
Hidden from view from the road, this small white building shares a parking lot with Christ Church on Broomes Island Road. Fourth grade students take a field trip here each year, but I wanted to see it too, so I took my girls there for a tour.
Retired school teachers open it up on Sundays from 2 to 4 where they’ll tell you the history and let children write on small slate boards and look through the old school books. The visit is free, but donations are accepted. You can spend as little as five minutes or as long as an hour on your visit.
The room has a stove in the center and a photo of George Washington on the wall. In the back you can see photos of students taken in 1915. By then, school was mandatory, but when it began in 1876, students came and went with the seasons often working on the tobacco farms during the spring through fall then attending more regularly during the winter months.
Though one of my daughters had been there before, they all enjoyed talking to the teachers and playing with their slate boards. I enjoyed learning about the rules set for the mostly female teachers and the stark difference 100 years has made in our schools. As we walked out, the girls posed on the stairs for a photo as if they were students there.
The “Seven Bridges Trail” 1.25 mile walking path is a great accompaniment to the tour, but take care during tick season with appropriate clothing or bug spray. You may also enjoy a visit to the historic Christ Church next door and its surrounding cemetery, then a stop at Linda’s produce stand for a fresh snack on the way home.
Educational, free, and fun for kids, a visit to this historic school house is a wonderful activity for a Sunday afternoon.
Port Republic School #7