The Amsterdam School district was organized in 1874. The Dutch influenced the choice of the name of a famous Dutch city for the new school district and in the use of the Dutch language in some of the teaching. Some of the first pupils wore wooden shoes to school. The original school was little red brick school house with wooden benches. In 1881 the Wabash Railroad which had tracks near the school, informed the directors that the school would need to be moved as they were building brand new tracks along the Des Moines River Valley. The board sold the school to the railroad for $200. In 1882, two new schools were built, East and West Amsterdam. East Amsterdam was built on a hill north of the new Wabash railroad on a road leading to Pella; West Amsterdam was located three miles west along the Des Moines River on a site near Lake Red Rock. Eventually West Amsterdam closed and all the rural children of that area attended East Amsterdam.
In 1958 the district became a part of the reorganized Pella Community School District; however the building was still used for some classes until 1960. Since then, the school house has been maintained by neighbors in the area and is now owned by the Pella Historical Society. It still contains the old stove, desks and other items used during its last years as a school.
Other interesting trivia:
- The discipline of the school was good according to Henry Brom who stated that if otherwise, the culprit was to cut his own willow stick with which he received punishment.
- The opening song each day of school in the first brick school was:
I go to school in Amsterdam
I love to go to school each day
I study hard as I can
And other times I play!
- In 1882 $8.25 was paid to G.A. Bezemer and Muilenberg for building a privy and stable at the East Amsterdam School. The privy still stands today.
- Each school year had three terms; summer, fall, and winter. Teachers were paid $25 a month in 1887.
- A favorite game for the children was Annie, Annie, Over. This was played throwing a ball across the school house roof, from one side of the school to the other. The challenge was catching the ball when it came over as you could not see for where it was thrown.
- Many former students remember fondly the evening programs when a curtain was stretched across the room for a makeshift stage, lines were memorized, and songs sung to the delight of family and friends.
The Amsterdam School is available for tours by appointment. Some grade school classes take an annual field trip to the school and spend the day much as their great grandparents would have. Call 641-628-2409 to schedule a tour or field trip.