The teacher’s home stands in almost the same relation to the school that the parsonage or manse does to the church.
Various names, such as teacher’s home, manse, teacherage, attic apartment, “lean-to,” and dominage, are applied to the district-owned buildings or to rooms in the schoolhouse that provide living quarters for teachers. (Muerman)
In the New England States the academies of the early days usually provided dormitories for the pupils. In these dormitories rooms were frequently set apart for members of the faculty who had supervision over the students who lived in the dormitories.
Several of these academies have been purchased by the school committees for use as public-school buildings, and with this purchase a home is provided for the teacher.
In the year 1894 rural school district No. 1, in Hall County, Nebraska, built a teachers’ home at a cost to the district of $1,000. This is perhaps the first one built by a school district for this purpose.
100 years ago, “It is not difficult to secure the services of competent teachers for such schools as have been supplied with teachers’ homes …”
“… and when good teachers schools as have been supplied with teachers’ homes, and when good teachers have been hired for these schools there seems to be less difficulty in retaining them for a greater number of years than they would be willing to stay in schools where teachers’ homes have not been provided.”
“The teachers who live at these homes are able to do better work; they live at a lower cost; they are happier; they have a place in which to prepare their work undisturbed …”
“… they are free from liability to entanglement in neighborhood differences; they are not so apt to make enemies during the school year because of a change of boarding places …”
“… they have a place in which to entertain patrons of the school, who as a rule are inclined to call on the teachers more often than where they are expected to go to the homes of their neighbors in order to do so …”
“… they go home less frequently on Friday evenings; in fact they live at home, feel at home, act at home, and are at home at the school.” (Muerman)
As part of the national discussion about teacherages 100 years ago, “The discourse about the cottages reveals that the issue is larger than just providing housing for teachers.”
Some saw them as a way to accomplish the goal of integrating scientific management techniques into the education system. “For them, teacherages provided an opportunity to put into practice their theories about home economics, vocational training and the cultivation of community life through schools.”
Others, particularly women, saw teacher housing as one of the several reforms needed to remediate women’s position in education and society. (Felber)
“The system of providing teachers’ cottages is an old one in Hawaii, going back to the middle of the last century. The teachers’ residence was built on the school lot, which was owned either by the Mission or by the Crown. The first cottages were small and primitive, in keeping with the simple architecture of the time.”
“It must be remembered that Hawaii had a highly developed educational system long before the western States were extensively settled. At one time, children were sent from the Northwest and from California to Hawaii to receive their education.”
“From those early days down to [100-years ago], there has been a steady growth in the number and character of the teachers’ cottages.”
100 years ago in Hawai‘i, “constructed cottages compare favorably with the better suburban bungalows and cottages. For example, the type of cottage [then] provided at a number of our larger rural schools would rent in Honolulu for from sixty to ninety dollars per month.” (MacGaughty)
“The school cottages are almost invariably built on the school lot adjacent to the regular school buildings. In most of the larger rural schools, the principal has a separate cottage for himself, or herself, and family.”
“[T]here is no other part of the United States where the teachers’ cottage system has been developed to the degree found in Hawaii. Here, it is a regular feature of all rural schools throughout the Territory.”
“The teachers who are assigned to the rural schools are given lodgings gratis, with no additional charge and in addition to their regular salary.” (MacGaughey)
The following letter from a group of mainland teachers, who came to the Islands 100-years ago, will indicate one reaction of newcomers to the teachers’ cottage system in Hawaii: “To the Editor of the Hawaii Educational Review” …
“Dear Sir: From the deepest gratitude we write this public testimony to the unexpected and very generous welcome the six coast teachers received. No one can fully appreciate the pleasure that we felt unless she too has been a coast girl plunged into the new and not altogether easily adaptable circumstances of a teacher in a plantation school of the Hawaiian Islands.”
“From the moment we crossed the landing place, where we were met by some kindly citizens with cars, and given the best breakfast obtainable at one of the local hotels, until we crossed the threshold of the cottage which was to be our home for the next year, we have felt welcome and wanted.”
“But more especially when we entered the cottage did we see evidences on every side of the thoughtfulness of the men and women of the interior of the cottage had been freshly painted, the necessary furniture had been made the previous school year by the manual training boys and nicely stained during the summer.”
“The windows shone clear and were hung with dainty curtains, and the dressers and tables were fitted out with covers to match. The kitchen was almost completely equipped with the needed utensils, and there was a very complete set of tasteful and pretty dishes – all of which girls especially appreciate.”
“From the outset of the school year, we have been called upon by the women of the plantation, and we really have felt an enthusiasm for entering into community affairs.”
“The clean and dainty appearance of our cottage as we explored it made us long to do the best we could for the boys and girls whose parents had been so thoughtful of us who were almost strangers to them.”
“Since all these things have been done for our comfort, we feel that it would be the least we could do in return to give their boys and girls the best we have of ourselves, our ideals, and our advantages”. (signed, the teachers)
“The effects of the teachers’ cottage system in stabilizing the teaching force are obvious.”