The Strawberry School House
The Strawberry School House may be one of the best little known historical attractions near Payson. Until a recent trip to Fossil Creek, I had no idea that it was even there. The small sign of the side of the road attracted my attention and I pulled over to check it out. And I'm sure glad I did. Touted as the "Oldest Standing School in Arizona," the little building was packed with history. More than enough to fill the short time I had. Which means, I hope to go back someday!
I found some of the old "Rules for Teachers" and final exams particularly interesting. As the picture below states for teachers: You will not marry during your contract, You will not keep the company of men and be at home between 8 pm and 6 am ... Wow, that's strict!
Here's a little history on the school house:
In 1884, the Yavapai County School Superintendent (Strawberry used to be part of Yavapai county) formed a small school to service the town of Strawberry.
Where the school should be located was a source of contention and it was finally resolved by a couple of cowboys measuring the distance between the Hicks-Duncan and Peach cabins, then putting a stake in the middle.
The school house was made from hand cut pine logs and featured a better than average interior. The school boasted four double-hung windows, wainscoting, wallpaper over cloth, two person desks and solid wood floors. As it also served as a meeting place and church, it also held an organ.
The school was in service until 1916, then used as a temporary shelter for Strawberry newcomers. The building not maintained and by 1961, was in ruins, only the exterior log structure worth saving.
Fred Eldean bought the building and donated it to the Payson-Pine Chamber of Commerce. It was slowly reconstructed and by 1981, it was owned by the Historical Society, fully restored and dedicated as a Historical Monument.
The school house is open to the public from May to September on weekend and holidays. It's located on Fossil Creek Road, not far from the center of town. If you're passing through Strawberry, this short detour is well worth it.