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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Frances Willard School (DHP photo, 1984)

Frances Willard School (DHP photo, 1984)

Frances Willard Schoolhouse
Janesville, Rock County
Date of Construction: 1853

The Frances Willard Schoolhouse is one of the earliest remaining one-room schoolhouses in southern Wisconsin. To further local children's education in a "real" school, Josiah Willard and neighbor David Inman built the schoolhouse in 1853 along the banks of the Rock River. Today, the school is named after the famous local Temperance activist Frances Willard, daughter of Josiah Willard. Citizens named the school for her because of her role as a leader and fighter for morality and equal rights. She attended school as one of the first students, and later became the teacher.

It is a small Greek Revival style building with the triangular, front-gabled pediment, returned cornices, and added frieze board that characterize the style. Three large windows on either side light the interior. The main fašade has a single entrance in place of the original separate boys' and girls' entrances. Its plain, brown, clapboard siding gave it the nickname the "little brown nut," where students spent from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or later, sometimes having to eat dinner at the school during the early winter nights.

Entering the building, the single room once held rows of desks separated by gender facing a raised teacher's platform.

Now located on the 4-H Fairgrounds, it continues to teach today's students about education.

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