Graham Chapel School House
Taken from brochure
“Pioneer Homestead: Log Cabin &Graham Chapel School House”
John Ewalt was the first settler in Elmwood Township, arriving from New York in May 1831. Four years later, he secured additional land nearby. This is where the Graham School House was built in 1856.
In 1902 people debated the merits of remodeling the schoolhouse to meet modern standards of that time, versus replacing the building altogether. The former option was chosen and renovations included adding a furnace and new roof, plus improving the out-building.
The schoolhouse became the social center of the community, hosting debate teams, singing groups, and spelling bees. Church services were also held at the school for a number of years. In 1869, a Methodist Episcopal Church was built across the road from the school on land donated by Mr. S.S. Graham. As one might suspect, the church was named Graham Chapel in honor of the family. Because of its proximity to the church, the schoolhouse became known as the Graham Chapel School.
In the early years, the seats were double in size, and many times had to seat three children due to the growth of the school district. In 1931, single seats were installed, including four adjustable seats. A gravel driveway leading from the main road to the schoolhouse was also included in the 19312 improvements.
During the 1953-1954 school year, the Graham Chapel District consolidated with the Elmwood School District. The land where the schoolhouse was located was reverted to the original farm.
At that time, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Foster owned the farm and schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was purchase at a public auction the Foster family hosted.
In the spring of 1977, The Fosters donated the Graham Chapel Schoolhouse to two honorary educational organizations at Bradley University: Pi Lambda Theta and Phi Delta Kappa. The little schoolhouse was moved to Wildlife Prairie Park. Mr. Fred Bologna donated his moving equipment and his time to relocate the building the cost of his laborers was defrayed by the two organizations.
Through these efforts, and volunteers of Wildlife Prairie State Park, the building is maintained to its 1928-1930 authenticity. Original items in the schoolhouse include a picture of George Washington, a map case with 1937 maps, slate blackboard, and recitation bench. The building also contains a 1900 world globe.