The school house was built in 1912 in the historical town of Castalia in DeSoto County, and served as a school from 1912 until 1937. The building was constructed from local heart-pine on the site of the old log-cabin school house. The building was donated to Cracker Country in 1980, along with some original furnishings.
Children would walk to school each day of the week, carrying leftovers from dinner or breakfast in their lunch buckets. The youngest children sat in the front of the classroom, while the older students sat in the back, and girls and boys sat on different sides of the rom. Lessons consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history and physiology (health).
In 1869 the modern public education system was established, guaranteeing free, uniform instruction to Florida residents ages 6-21. Schools were established wherever there were at least twenty-five students; at least ten students had to be actively enrolled in order for a school to remain open. Schools in rural Florida during this time period did not go past eighth grade, and grades 1-8 were all taught in one classroom by the same teacher. Teachers were usually young women who may or may not have progressed past the eighth grade. If a teacher was not available, a parent from the community might teach, or children would simply learn at home from their parents. Beginning in 1893, children 7-16 years old were required to go to school for at least six months; children from farm families could not attend school during plowing in the spring and harvesting in the fall.
During the Florida State Fair, the school house is home to an animatronics teacher and students. The characters, added in 1989, bring the school house to life and let visitors experience an early Florida school house.
Built 1912, moved to Cracker Country in 1979, first Florida State Fair 1980