This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ruins of the old South Newton Township School

I was in the library looking for information for this blog when I noticed something interesting on the map on the wall. There was a dot for an old township school, the South Newton Township school. I vaguely recalled some ruins at that intersection, so a few days later I visited.

I found them at the corner of Bunkum Road and CR 1000 W. They were pretty much as I remembered them from a visit several years earlier when I had no idea of what they were.
What is left is the concrete core of an old building, with many trees growing very near it. There is a doorway on the east side.
If you go down to the doorway, you can see through the remains of the building to the other side.

From the west side of the building you can see the same passageway that leads through the building.

From the north side of the ruins you can see openings into two rooms. I doubt if they were classrooms.

Below you can see the eastern room. Notice the chimney in the corner. This may have been the furnace room and the room next to it may have been a coal room. That is only a guess and if anyone had better information, please leave it in a comment.
The building faced the south. It had two staircases leading to the second floor, and the picture of it I found in the library suggests it was a twin of the North Newton Township School. It opened the same year, but closed a couple of years before the North Newton Township School. (Of course, it should not be confused with the Newton County Schools. Jasper County creates some confusion by having a township with the same name as the adjoining county.)
Below are the tops of the western stairs, and at the top is a small area that must have originally been part of the main classroom area.
The fallen leaves covered the concrete, and all that was visible was the chimney coming up through the floor.
There is very little debris around the school. If the walls and the roof had fallen down, they would have left bricks and beams. But there are none. There is some story here as to why all that is left of this old school is a concrete core, whereas the North Newton Township School, though slowly falling apart, still has roof and walls intact. Did someone tear down this school for the materials? Why is there still this core of the building here?

I was in grade school in Minnesota during some of the final years of this school. The school I attended was in a little town and has now been shut. The little towns lost their schools to the bigger towns. However, I have no recollection of anything similar to the township schools that seem to have been everywhere in Indiana during from 1930 until 1960. What was the reason for setting them up instead of putting the school in the little towns of the area?


Ed said...

Huh, I always thought that was an old gas station when I rode by it on my bike as a kid. I guess I never noticed that it was gutted to the extent that it was.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I have asked about it for years. I was told this was a switching house for telephones.

Jake said...

Were these township schools just elementary schools? Interesting setup with them not being in a town.

Wendi said...

I have driven past this building many times (we live in Jordan Township) and always wondered what it was. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

In the schools book, I see the school open from 1924 to 1962. I see teachers names, from the book The history of Indiana's Jasper County Schools, such as Howard Duggleby, Beulah Arnott, Beatrice Abell, Britta Terrell, Irene Hadley, and George Cover having taught there.