Schoolhouse Saturday – the Fruita Schoolhouse

Prior to Elijah Cutler Behunin donating land for a school in 1896, classes had been held for two years.  The first school teacher was twelve year old Nettie Behunin who taught the children of the eight families living in Junction, Utah, in the Behunin home.  Her first class had 22 students that included three of her siblings.  A peaked, shingled roof was added to the building in 1912 or 1913 and the interior walls were plastered in 1935.

The Fruita Schoolhouse as it appeared in the 1930s.

The Fruita Schoolhouse as it appeared in the 1930s.

Eight grades were taught the “three-R’s” at the one room school and if a teacher had enough textbooks and felt qualified, then other subjects such as geography were added.  In 1900, the first county approved classes were taught by then 22 year old Nettie, the first authorized teacher.  She was paid $70 a month compared to her male counterparts who received $80.  The school was closed due to a lack of students in 1941.

In 1964, the National Park Service nominated the school to the National Register of Historic Places and restored the structure to how it appeared in the 1930s.  Today, the school still stands in its original location and those that take the time to stop and peek through the windows can, with a little imagination, reflect on what school was like in a time when the classroom wasn’t ruled by computers and white boards….listen carefully, you might still be able to hear the old school bell ring.

Until the next adventure…


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