Rapp Schoolhouse in Osage County, Kansas

Rapp School in Osage County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Rapp School in Osage County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

The old Rapp Schoolhouse in Osage County, Kansas, is one of the few, if not the only one-room eight-grade schoolhouses in the state that still has its original desks and textbooks.

Rapp Village was never incorporated, but it had all the amenities of a small community. It was located along the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, a couple of miles southeast of the schoolhouse. The community consisted of about a dozen homes, a railroad crossing, a produce station, cattle pens, a general store, a lumberyard, and a blacksmith. A post office was never established in the village. The village was named after C. J. Rapp, a large landowner in the area.

The Rapp School District No. 50 was organized on June 10, 1870. The first school at the site was a one-story wooden building measuring 18 feet by 25 feet built by August and Swan Bloom for $175. It was completed in 1871.

Initially, the school was open for three months in the summer with a female teacher and four months in the winter with a male teacher. Later, a five and one-half month session was established, and then in the 1900s, an eight-month session.

In 1929, the present red-brick building was built by the Leighty Brothers of Osage City, Kansas. This modern one-room school contained a full basement, a hand pump and sink for water and a coal furnace, electricity pre-dating Rural Electrification, windows, boys’ and girls’ cloakrooms, a library, and 42 desks. The schoolhouse was an integral part of the Rapp village during its early years.

On July 1, 1962, the school was discontinued when consolidation forced its closure. At that time, only five students were enrolled, and the last teacher was Mae J. Carlson. Afterward, the building was deeded to the GrantTownship Board of Trustees for community use.

The ladies in the Rapp Extension Homemakers Unit cleaned and maintained the inside of the building until the 1990s. It was used as a vacation Bible School, a voting place for Grant Township, and a meeting place for community groups in the following years.

The Rapp School Preservation Association was formed in 1992, and the building was repaired with contributions from many former students and others, plus grants from the W.S. and E.C. Jones Trust.

Rapp School in Osage County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Rapp School in Osage County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

In 1995 the Rapp School Building was listed as a State Historic Site and then placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, Living History Days are conducted for local school children and other groups. Community activities, family functions, and individual tours may be scheduled with Rapp School Preservation Association members.

The building still has its original furnishings, including the teacher’s desk, recitation desk, student desks, cloak hooks, lunch cupboards, wall maps, counting sticks, books, and a piano. The bell in the two-story bell tower still rings crystal clear. A visit to the school is like stepping back in time.

The beautiful brick schoolhouse and playground adjoin the Rapp Cemetery to the north, where many early family names may be found. These two sites, along with a few area homes near the railroad crossing, are all that is left of the former Rapp village.

The historic school is five miles west of Osage City on Highway 56.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, April 2022.

Also See:

Cities & Towns

Historic Sites

Kansas Ghost Towns

Osage County Photo Gallery

Sources:

Historical Marker Database
National Register Nomination
Osage County, Kansas