One-room schoolhouses were a common sight in the 19th century American West. Although most have been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, there are still some left that have been restored through the time and effort of members of the local community. One such school house can be found off of South Prairie View Road in Waverly, WA. In fall, 2013, the Southeast Spokane Historical Society, with the help of thousands of dollars in private donations, made an attempt to restore and conserve the old school and also sponsored the school's five-mile move to its current location. Prairie View School has served as a staple of Waverly's community history and culture for 110 years.
The Prairie View schoolhouse opened in 1904 and stood at Fenn and Waverly-Plaza Road to serve and educate area children in grades K-12, but it was not the town's first. Beginning in 1881, the area opened its first schoolhouse, a simple log cabin structure. A few years later as the growing population of Waverly had outgrown the old log building, the town constructed Prairie View. Walter Stark served as the school's principal for the first few years and Annie Holtman was the school's teacher from 1923 until 1961. Local historian, Glenn Leitz, believes the building was originally a pioneer home before it was turned into the new school. Before it closed its doors in 1937, as many as 30 to 40 students attended Prairie View during any given school year.
The schoolhouse sat nestled among some cottonwoods in a very sad state. In 2013, the Southeast Spokane historical Society had the building lifted from its original foundation and transported approximately five miles to its current location. It now sits on a recently poured concrete foundation and a new roof has been put in place. From the outside, the school looks relatively new due to the recent remodel and the original clapboard siding still remains, which is still in remarkably good condition. Other than the new roof and foundation, the inside of the school has maintained much of its original character, including the stage. The process of moving and restoring the old school has, as of 2013, totaled around $50,000.00, all of which has been funded through generous donations.
Similar schoolhouses could once be found dotting the Palouse landscape in both Spokane and Whitman Counties. As early as 1927, there was 130 one-room schools just in Spokane County alone. Waverly's Prairie View Schoolhouse is one of a small number in which the local community has made the push beyond talk and began a concerted attempt to preserve it. Waverly's Prairie View Schoolhouse stands as a testament to the importance of public education to the residents of the Northern Palouse.