In 1869, Charles J. Rapp purchased 250 acres where the town would later be established. In 1884, the area was fenced into 80-acre plots.
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.
In 1886, the Missouri-Pacific Railroad built a tent camp for workmen and 200 mules at the site. In 1887, the tracks were laid, and railroad service commenced for freight, passengers, livestock, and farm produce. Later, side tracks were installed, and a depot and stockyard were built.
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 1902 a general store was established by Robert and Will Skonberg. Two years later, the Chelberg Brothers built a lumber yard. Though Rapp Village was never incorporated and never had a post office, it had the amenities of a small community. In addition to these new businesses, the town also had about a dozen homes and a blacksmith.
Unfortunately, the general store burned down in 1926.
In 1929, the Leighty Brothers of Osage City, Kansas, built a new red-brick school building. 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 integral to 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; 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.
In 1995 the Rapp School Building was listed as a State Historic Site and then placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1996, the Missouri Pacific Railroad removed its tracks.
Living History Days are for local school children and other groups today. 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 old 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.