Back in the 1800’s, it was not unusual find one-room schools, especially in rural communities. There is one that’s been saved and turned into a museum in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. When the Collinswood School was built in 1883, it was likely one of thousands that existed across the country.
This school was built near Ponchatoula by the Collins family. Ponchatoula historian Jim Perrin says Mrs. Collins wanted the school for her son, “So she had her husband build this building and she invited the neighborhood kids to come to school”.
Jim Perrin is a retired teacher and principal, who has helped turn the old school into the town museum. The Collinswood School operated for about 30 years, and inside there is a class picture from 1905.
When you walk around the Collinswood Museum you see that it’s loaded with railroad memorabilia. The train is one of the main reasons Ponchatoula became a town in 1861. Another reason was the large forests of virgin cypress trees located south of town.
Outside the museum you can see Engine Number 3, one of the engines used by the local lumber company to haul timber. Perrin says, “They started logging extensively in the 1890’s and we had two large lumber mills located in Ponchatoula”. By the 1950’s the giant cypress trees were gone.
Ponchatoula is trying to capitalize on its past and has preserved many of its old downtown buildings which are now art galleries and antique shops. The city slogan is, “America’s Antique City”.
There are eight antique stores on Ponchatoula’s main street. C.J. Scandurro operates one of them, “There’s a lot of really old buildings in town, some nice big buildings. That’s what the antique city represents, the old town look”. Ponchatoula is a town that has built part of its future on preserving its past.