Connecting children and adults with Boone County's heritage
Howard School is most significant because of its role in the history of education. The brick building and wooden building it replaced in 1881 embodied nineteenth century education in general and in Indiana specifically. The building was state funded, constructed, maintained and monitored by local and state officials. Howard School is the example fo the district school system under the Indiana General Assembly's 1852 school law and later provisions. It is a reminder of how, where and why Hoosiers educated their young. The history of education in Indiana is a significant cultural and social trend. The closing of the current brick school building in December, 1916 was due to another trend in education reflecting the transformation of Indiana from an agrarian to an urban society.
The Howard School is a rarity. In 1910, when school consolidation started, there were approximately 9300 schoolhouses in Indiana, about 123 of which were in Boone County. In December 1982, an inventory of historic sites listed 29 Boone County "school" buildings. By July, 2008, twelve no longer existed, five were large buildings rather than one room schoolhouses, eight had been converted to private homes, one to a barn and one to a garage facility for farm machinery. Of the remaining two, one was a ruin far beyond practical restoration. The only building remaining for preservation and restoration was the Howard School building.
1881 - Howard School, often known as Perry Township School #1, opens to teach Perry Township children and to be a community center.
1916 - School closes at Christmas Break according to Hazel Tharp, who was the only known living student in 2012.
2004 - Until now, the school was used for grain and farm equipment storage until it was so bad it wasn't used at all.
Led by Jack Belcher, a call to local residents to form a group was made to restore the building.
2012 - School dedication was attended by 100+ interested citizens and restoration professionals.
After its 1916 closing, Howard School received little attention. It had been essentially undisturbed except for occasional storage of grain and other farm material. On occasion it has been surrounded by pastured hogs or cows and more often by fields of grain and corn. In 2004, sibling owners Kenneth Washburn and Kay Seymour offered to donate the building and about one acre of surrounding property for community use.
The history - or perhaps prehistory - of Howard School begins with White Lick settlement. White Lick got its name from a salt lick at the stream which became known as White Lick Creek. Ancient Americans, then the Miami Indians and later European hunters sought animals attracted to the salt lick.
By far, the most significant honor has been the recognition and the support from the citizens and organizations of Perry Township, Boone County and the surrounding area. Since it was started in 2004, the Howard School restoration project has received recognition from multiple organizations and groups. The following formal honors have been awarded:
2007 - Listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures.
2009 - Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
2010 - Received the Indiana Historic Preservation Award for Outstanding Effort to Save and Preserve Howard School from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology.
2011 - Outstanding Restoration Award from the Indiana Landmarks.
1881 - 1916