Medlen school and teacherage with a pump in the foreground.

National and State Register

Rural School Buildings in Colorado

In 1861, a comprehensive school law was among the acts passed by Colorado’s first Territorial Legislative Assembly.  Historians have noted that a community’s construction of a school building often reflected not only a belief in the importance of universal education but a desire to lend an aura of permanence to the community itself. 

Usually containing only one or two classrooms, rural school buildings also served as community meeting halls.  Few early log examples survive.  One-story wood frame buildings are the most prevalent survivors, but there are also good masonry examples.  Two-story buildings are rare, as are sites that include intact examples of outbuildings, such as teacherages and privies.

Reflecting a nationwide trend in education, Colorado’s School District Reorganization Act of 1949 promoted the consolidation of the state’s remaining small rural school districts into much larger, often countywide districts.  However, especially in remote areas, many rural schools continued to operate well into the 1950s.  (Cover documentation accepted by National Register in 1999, accepted for State Register 6/9/2004.)