Kellas School: 145 Years and Counting

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Today, the Kellas School on the HCHM campus is enjoyed by all ages.  From 3th graders learning about life in the past to older folks reminiscing, the small wood structure continues to serve Harvey County.

A Sunday School Class reminisces.

Beginnings . . .

Located 1 mile east and 1 mile south of Spencer Road, the one-room school, District 35, organized April 12, 1873.  The organizational meeting was held at the home of Henry Kellas across from the proposed school location. The first school board consisted of J.C. Brooks, director; H.A. Ensign, clerk; and Kellas, who served as district treasurer for 32 years.

By October 1873, a new building was ready for students.  The wood structure was 16 by 22 feet, and the cost, including the stove, pipe and desks, totaled $415.00.

In 1899, 56 students were enrolled at Kellas School, District 35.

Kellas School group, 1902.

Kellas School Group, pre-1905. Lottie Hart, teacher.

A New Kellas School & Move #1 for old Kellas.

In 1905, the Kellas school board decided to sell the wooden structure to make room for a  new brick school.

Kellas School, 1961.

New Kellas School built in 1905. These photos were taken in 2014.

The old building sold to Bethel Deaconess Hospital & Home, Newton, Ks for $57.50  and moved to the hospital campus on Pine Street.  While at Bethel Deaconess Hospital, the old school building was used as a space to  process chickens and storage.

Discovery . . . 

In 1980, the 5th grade class at Suncrest School taught by Helen Beckham studied one-room schools.  As a result of the research, Beckham discovered that the original wood frame structure of an early one-room school still existed.  Excited students and teacher began a campaign to preserve and restore the Kellas One-Room School. They gained the assistance of the Board and staff at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Bethel Deaconess Hospital agreed to give the building to the Museum. The City of Newton approved placing the structure on the Museum grounds.  The big move was scheduled for July 31, 1981.

Moving Day #2 

July 31, 1981

Bartel Moving Company, Hillsboro, Ks provided the moving services.

Pulling Away from Bethel Deaconess Hospital & Home

Down the Street


Easing Into A New Home.

The restoration of Kellas would not have been possible without the efforts of many volunteers including  Dwight & Helen Beckham.

New Uses of a Historic Structure

Helen Beckham teaching a class.

Over the years several teachers have utilized Kellas to take students “back in time” and experience school the way it was over 100 years ago in Harvey County.

The volunteers and staff at HCHM always look forward to hearing the sounds of children coming from the old structure.

In addition to school groups, Kellas is used by other groups for programs or meetings.

Over the years, upkeep has been on-going.  In April 1986, as a community service project, the Lucky 4-H Club painted the building.

Kansan, April 4, 1986.

Currently, the interior is in need of repainting. If you have an interest in this project, please contact HCHM Executive Director, Hannah Thompson for details.

Ceiling around stove pipe, 2017.


Kellas School, Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, Newton, Ks, 2014.

Kellas, 2014.

If you have an interest in using Kellas School for a meeting or event,  call HCHM for details and rates.


  • Kellas File, HCHM Scrapbook, Curator’s Office.
    • Smurr, Mike, HCHM Board Chair, “Proposal to Relocate and Restore the Kellas School on the Grounds of the Harvey County Historical Museum.” no date.
    • “City Commission Meeting Minutes” April 1, 1981.
  • Smurr, Linda C. Ed., Harvey County History. Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, Newton, Ks, 1990.