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We love learning about the rich history of the Smoky Mountains and the many families who called the Smokies home! One of the best ways to learn about the history of the Smokies is to visit the historic buildings that still stand in the park today. One of those buildings that holds plenty of history within its walls is the Little Greenbrier School. Learn more about the history behind the Little Greenbrier School in the Smoky Mountains and how to get there so you can explore it yourself!
What is the Little Greenbrier School?
The Little Greenbrier School is a former schoolhouse in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was built in 1882 and was used as both a school and a church until 1936. The schoolhouse is located near the center of the Little Greenbrier community. It is a one-story building with an attic, and the walls are made of hewn yellow poplar logs resting on a stone foundation. The gabled roof is covered with oak shingles, and the chimney was built of bricks and fitted with an iron pipe and stove. A white pine door on iron hinges provided members of the community access to the Little Greenbrier School.
The History of the Little Greenbrier School
The idea for the Little Greenbrier School began when residents of the area showed interest in having a teacher for the children. The county said they would supply the salary for a teacher for the town if and when they had a proper building. Therefore, construction of the school began and was a community effort. The Little Greenbrier School was built in 1882 with the help of John Walker, the father of the Walker Sisters. Students throughout the Little River Valley and some from the Meigs Mountain community about 4 miles away attended the school. It operated as a schoolhouse for residents of the area until 1936. The Little Greenbrier School wasn’t used solely as a school, though! It was also used for church services by a local Primitive Baptist congregation. The congregation was also responsible for the small cemetery located near the school.
The Little Greenbrier School Today
The Little Greenbrier School still stands in the Smoky Mountains today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can go inside the school and take a seat at the wooden desks, stare at the blackboard at the front of the room, and truly get a feel for how students learned in the past.
How to Get to the Little Greenbrier School
If you’re interested in taking a step back in time and exploring the Little Greenbrier School, we can help you get there! The school is located in the Metcalf Bottoms area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike to the school isn’t far, and it’s a reminder of the walk the children did to reach the school every day! Start at the Metcalf Bottoms parking lot on the Metcalf Bottoms Trail. The roundtrip distance to the school and back is only 1.5 miles! Although the trail has a few hills, there are no steep climbs. There is a creek that runs alongside a majority of the trail, and you’ll get to walk across two log bridges and see a variety of plants and trees.
Once you explore the Little Greenbrier School, continue your hike up to the Walker Sisters Cabin, which is the last remaining cabin in the Greenbrier community. You can learn more about the cabin and the strange history of the Walker Sisters here.
More Historic Places in the Smoky Mountains
If you love visiting and exploring historic places in the Smoky Mountains, we hope you take the time to visit the Little Greenbrier School! This is just one of the many cabins and structures within the park that will give you a glimpse of Smoky Mountain history. For more ideas of places to explore on your trip, take a look at these 5 historical places near Gatlinburg TN.