Abbe Creek School

Also known as: Sumner School, Little Brick, Kepler
Abbe creek school linn iowa

One-Room Schoolhouse Museum added to the NRHP May 5, 2013


Abbe Creek School

View of school and Lincoln Highway Marker

Photo taken by Dave King


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Street View 


Abbe Creek School was first organized in 1844 by pioneer homesteaders: Alison I. Willets; Jesse Holman; and Peter, Henry and Conrad Kepler. They engaged a carpenter named Lichtenbarger to build the first log school. The school was first called Sumner School but later it came to be known affectionately as “Little Brick.” Locally, it was called Kepler most likely because many Kepler family members attended.

Records in the Linn County assessor’s office indicate that the present school house was built in 1856 of soft brick thought to have been manufactured locally at Port Stottler brickyard. The building measures 20 by 26 feet and originally faced north.

The doors of Abbe Creek School closed on June 1, 1936 after serving the community for 92 years. The building was later converted into a private home. The school and yard were purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Pitlik in 1963, and on October 25, 1964 the restored schoolhouse was dedicated as a museum. It is now operated by the Linn County Conservation Board and is open during the summer: June – August, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Museum tours are available for groups at request.

Behind it lay the community cemetery called Sugar Grove, where many early residents, including the first wife of William Abbe, Olive, and Zimri Davis (1783–1856, a veteran of the War of 1812) and his wife (a daughter of a Revolutionary War veteran) are buried. Two American Civil War veterans, Morris Burnett and George Thompson are also buried there. Many graves date from the 1850s, the earliest visible date is 1847.

Also on the grounds is the spring that furnished drinking water for the school. It is the source of a small feeder stream running into Abbe Creek. The original tile used to collect water is still in place. In the winter, the students would skate on the ice of frozen Abbe Creek. There is a storm cellar set into the hill of the school where students would take shelter in severe weather.

With the grading and paving of the Lincoln Highway in 1925, the school was moved to face the East and the cemetery was isolated from it by the road. A Lincoln Highway marker still stands on the school grounds. A few hundred feet southeast of the schoolhouse site is a marker honoring William Abbe as the first settler in Linn County.


19th Century (38,126)
Brick (42,466)
Building (4,491)
Built 1856 (354)
Built during 1850s (4,737)
Have Street View (50,477)
Iowa (2,530)
Lincoln Highway (84)
Linn County, Iowa (115)
Museum (137)
School (5,269)

Update Log 

  • June 9, 2013: New Street View added by Dave King
  • May 20, 2013: Added by Dave King