The Santa Ana School was originally located in Hollister, in the Santa Ana Valley in San Benito County. The 127-year old, one-room schoolhouse provides a classroom setting for the over 25,000 school children who visit History Park each year. It honors teachers, and is a symbol of educational traditions in the 1890’s. The project was sponsored by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education Alumni Association of San José State University as a joint project with History San José.
Santa Ana is typical of one-room schoolhouse construction. It has two entrance doors, cloak rooms, and exit doors; one of each for girls and boys. Restroom facilities, called privies, were located in the back of the schoolhouse yard. Again, one for the girls and one for the boys. In the 1890’s water was carried from a neighboring ranch in a pail, poured into either community or individual drinking cups.
During the 1800’s, children in rural areas of the nation would attend schools much like the Santa Ana School. The schools were located within walking distance of students’ homes, considered to be five miles in San Benito County. At one time, large rural areas such as San Benito County had over 63 one-room schoolhouses, often built by a township. A township consisted of 36 sections of land, each section consisting of 640 acres. One section would be set aside to be sold at public auction to establish a school.
Interior of One-Room Schoolhouse
Grades one through eight were taught at the Santa Ana School. Some students had to work on the farm and took longer to complete school than others. Consequently, the age of the children in one classroom could range from six to eighteen. The daily lessons produced a constant buzz of voices as the students read aloud, practiced, recited, listened, wrote, and read as many as thirteen different lessons that were conducted at one time. The teacher called students forward by grade level to the recitation bench in the front of the room to give them instructions, conduct practice sessions, or listen to students as they recited their lessons.
A total of 54 teachers taught at Santa Ana School between 1872-1974, except for 1904-08, 1926-34, and 1946-47. Kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Gates-Rianda was the last to teach there from 1972-74.
The Tavares Family of Hollister donated the Santa Ana One-Room Schoolhouse to the Connie L. Lurie College of Education Association. The schoolhouse later opened at History Park on September 26, 1998.
The Santa Ana One-Room Schoolhouse is featured in A Child’s Life in the 1890s, Coming to America, The Immigration Experience, and School Days in the 1890sSchool Programs.