Officially called the East Amsterdam School Museum, this nearly 150-year-old building is filled with school memorabilia from days gone by. The country school became part of the Pella Community School District in 1958 and was purchased by the Pella Historical Society in 1972. Since 1972 the Pella Historical Society has restored the building to a hands-on working museum where children and adults may experience a 1930s era school day.
Amsterdam School is located east of Pella on Idaho Drive, then south on 198th Place past the convenience store on the corner.
The history of Amsterdam School began in 1874 when the citizens of the settlement of Amsterdam voted to form an independent school district. Amsterdam, platted in 1848, was a thriving commercial settlement on the north shore of the Des Moines River, near the present Howell Station campgrounds below Red Rock Dam. The Amsterdam settlement no longer exists. In 1882, when the Wabash Railroad bought the original school site, the School Board decided to build two schools – East Amsterdam up the hill on the road leading to Pella and West Amsterdam a few miles to the west. Eventually all students attended East Amsterdam.
Students walked to school and carried their own lunches. The teacher was responsible for everything in the school day – starting the fire, raising the flag, teaching all academic classes for all eight grades plus primary, arts and crafts, music, first aid, discipline and counseling, daily cleaning, record keeping, programs, fundraisers, etc. The country school was the neighborhood center.
Today the school is open by appointment for people wishing to view the museum. The museum has entertained many local groups including school children and various clubs and organizations. The children often dress in period costume, bring their own lunches, play old fashioned games, use chalkboards for their lessons, learn arts and crafts, and experience some of what children ninety years ago experienced.