Columbia's One-Room Schools

Columbia has preserved the community’s heritage of one-room schools with three renovation projects restoring old schools for new uses: Shoemaker School, Sand Bank School, and the St. Paul Lutheran School.

Commemorative stone pavers in the Monroe County Welcome Center’s plaza (see the following) can be engraved for a nominal fee with proceeds benefitting the PLAY Columbia Foundation. To order engraved pavers, please download and complete the order form (PDF).


Former Students (Shoemaker)

The City of Columbia has renovated historic Shoemaker School into a multi-faceted facility that links Monroe County’s heritage with its vision for the future. Hammond Shoemaker, the first doctor along the Cahokia-Kaskaskia Trace, built a one-room building for his children in 1867. It was used as a public school until 1951, then as a private home for almost four decades. In 1992, the structure was moved to its present location in order to avoid demolition due to the widening of Illinois 3. Today, adaptive reuse of the building as a POP-UP SHOP allows for three functions:

  • Attract visitors to Columbia, the Shoemaker Schoolhouse and the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail to learn the history of the building and surrounding area through interpretive signage;
  • Create a vibrant Historic Main Street as a tourism destination;
  • Promote a beneficial use of an historic building.

The One Room School Commemorative Plaza before the entrance into the building designates all 60+ one room schools that dotted Monroe County in 1900 and provides opportunities to remember parents, grandparents and teachers with imprinted brick pavers.

The building was renovated by the City of Columbia using only local resources, including donations from local community members, brick paver proceeds and revenue from the City’s hotel motel tax. 


The first English-speaking school in Monroe County opened in an old log cabin off Old Bluff Road in 1783. In 1817, the first Sand Bank School was constructed by the son of Revolutionary War veteran James Piggot. The current one-room school was built in 1855 and decommissioned around 1952, after which it was purchased by a local family and used as their residence until 1999.

In 2009, Dennis Patton and Terry Schramm purchased the white frame structure, which was by then in a state of extreme deterioration. Deploying volunteer help, their own savings, and a generous donation from local benefactor Charles Todd, the two men were able to restore the old school to its former glory. Today, Sand Bank School is available for small parties, wedding receptions, and other events.


For more information, visit Sand Bank School’s page on Facebook.