One-room schoolhouses were common in small towns and rural areas during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Children from all grad levels were taught in a single room. Eventually one-room schoolhouses disappeared leaving only a few examples like this one at Nottingham.
In 1816, the Maryland legislature passed an act to fund public schools in Prince George's County. In 1826, trustees were assigned to fund poor children and orphans who could not afford an education. Funding established schools, but travel to and from schools was difficult. Therefore, in 1831 the county was divided into school districts to ensure convenient schools in each region of the county. Nottingham School was one of 10 schools established in District Four by 1868.
The Nottingham schoolhouse was built in 1911, with a $744.50 budget. Some of the construction materials were reused from an older school on the same lot. The new school contained about forty seats, twenty "tolerable" desks, one teacher's desk, two bookcases, a slate blackboard, and a heating stove. There was no plumbing, but an outhouse was built near the school. The schoolhouse overlooks the Patuxent River, and students could watch passing boats through the windows of the tiny schoolhouse. Most students traveled to school on foot and helped their parents with farm work when they were not attending classes.
Nottingham resident Dent Downing reminisces, "I used to walk to school with my brothers, Gordon and Bob. I was only 4, but the teacher (Mrs. Loveless) enrolled me in the first grade anyway. I didn't know how Mrs. Loveless handled all those children and all those grades, but she did and I remember a pot-bellied stove, wooden desks, and no running water." (Sherwood, John. PB Journal. 10-16-86). His Aunt, Anona "Tootie" Duvall taught at the schoolhouse from 1925 to 1931. She remembers that schoolhouse had "a piano, and no lighting of any kind." She had 35 students, and if there was just one in the second grade level, why you taught that one in the second grade. We used to carry water from the spring and the children took turns ringing the school bell outside.
The Nottingham schoolhouse closed shortly after World War II. Mrs. Irene Downing purchased the schoolhouse in 1950 and her heirs donated it to The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It is now one of the few one-room schoolhouses left standing, a uique tribute to times past.