School was renovating, but what they found behind walls—everyone was gasping

January 27, 2018 5:37 pm Last Updated: January 27, 2018 5:37 pm

One of the most exciting parts of a renovation project is the thrill of what you might uncover.

While home remodeling shows would lead you to believe there are sparkling pine floorboards underneath every shabby carpet, that’s rarely the case. Unknown windows to the past don’t come that often.

Twitter/ OKC Public Schools

Unless a building is very old and entirely original construction, don’t expect results like those at this Oklahoma public school.

Emerson High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was built in 1895. The last time the school got a facelift was in 1917, when new blackboards were put up on the walls.

Fast forward nearly 100 years to 2015, when the school began to take down those blackboards and replace them with new dry erase and smart boards. What they found underneath blew everyone away.

At Emerson High School in Oklahoma in 2015, workers uncovered beautifully-preserved blackboards with lessons from nearly a century ago.

The blackboards are truly incredible. Not only are they a time capsule of education from 1917, but they are in immaculate condition.

The quality of the cursive hand-writing on the boards is top notch as well. Students are rarely able to produce cursive with the same level of fluency anymore.

“The penmanship blows me away, totally. Because you don’t see a lot of that anymore,” principal Sherry Kishore said via NewsOK.

The board also gives insight into hygiene recommendations, art, English, and mathematics lessons of the day.

One panel of the chalkboard featured a multiplication wheel, something many of the teachers admitted to never having seen before.

Further renovations around the school revealed more blackboards—teachers compared it to uncovering Egyptian hieroglyphs.

As renovations continued to the third floor, the school found more 100-year-old blackboards. While not as aesthetically beautiful as the others, the information found on them was just amazing.

They include drawings of the state of Oklahoma, an ancient calendar, and a sentence being diagrammed.

“It’s just a glimpse into people that were in this building before, and the way they taught. And basically they’re the same concepts, we just teach them differently,” said Kishore.

Kishore, whose 85-year-old mother was also a teacher, broke down in tears when she saw the blackboards. She said they looked exactly like the blackboards when she was a young girl in school.

The remarkable discovery immediately prompted questions of how to preserve the blackboards.

There was an obvious desire to preserve the blackboards. As artifacts now over a century old, they provide a unique window into the past.

“It’s like touching history, like being a part of what was going on during the day, and just remarkable and mysterious, trying to figure out what some of this was,” teacher Sherry Read said to KOSU.

A number of schools and universities, including Harvard, called Kishore for assurance that the blackboards were going to be preserved.

The problem had no easy resolution. While the blackboards were an inspiring discovery, the space was still needed to put up the new boards.

The school eventually decided to preserve some behind transparent plexiglass, while others were covered with wood panels. Those that remain exposed are striking pieces of art in the building—tokens to its past.