MHT File Photo
Rufus Wilson Road, Clear Spring, Washington County
Constructed in 1859-1860, the Wilson School is a rectangular building, one room wide and three bays deep, constructed of brick laid in common bond above a random rubble limestone foundation. Its simple, gable-front composition reflects a vernacular interpretation of the Greek Revival style which was commonly employed for rural school buildings in the mid-19th century. Large 9/6 sash windows define the longitudinal bays, set in openings with flat brick arches and wooden sills. The entrance is located in a small vestibule which projects from the south gable end. While the masonry of the vestibule does not appear to be keyed into that of the main block, the character of the brickwork and detailing of the two elements is very similar, indicating that not much time passed before the addition of the vestibule. The entrance comprises a single door below a three-light transom. A brick exterior chimney is located on the south gable, west of the vestibule. The north gable end is unfenestrated except for a small louvered ventilator located near the peak. The west elevation is three bays wide; the northernmost bay holds a secondary entrance, probably converted from a window opening in the early 1940s in response to safety requirements, while the remaining bays retain 9/6 sash windows in openings topped with flat brick arches. The roof is covered with ridged metal, and there is a pronounced overhang at the eaves. The interior is finished throughout in plaster above random-width tongue-and-groove wainscoting capped with a beaded chair rail. Window architraves are trimmed with simple flat boards with a beaded edge. At the north end of the school room is a two-foot-wide platform. The building has been restored and furnished to interpret a country school of the period. A three-panel blackboard is located at the north end, and another blackboard is located at the rear of the schoolroom, east of the entrance. A pot-bellied stove is located to the west of the entrance. Furnishings include school desks representing various periods.
The Wilson School is significant for its association with the early development of education in Washington County. Constructed in 1859-1860 by local merchant Rufus Wilson to serve his son and neighbors' children, it was incorporated into the county's public education system in the 1890s and remained in use until it closed in 1950, the last operating one-room school in Washington County. It is also significant for its architecture, as a well-preserved representative example of a type of one-room school building typical of rural Maryland in the third quarter of the 19th century.