The "Little House" and Barn were built during the summers of 1928 and 1929 as a class project to encourage children to attend summer school at Shepherd College so that student teachers taking the summer demonstartion course would have a chance to work with children. Orginially Professor Florence Shaw, supervisor of the observation and teacher-training program, decided on a project that would have the children building a small chidren's garden on the overgrown lot located on Princess Street beside White Hall. But with the encouragement of President White, the small children's garden evolved into the creation of a one-acre miniature farm modeled after the farms in the Shenandoah Valley.
The miniature farm would consist of a house, barn and crops created and maintained by children so that future generations of children could learn as they played and worked much as the children who built the miniature farm did. With the supervision and assistance of nineteen student teachers, twelve fifth- and sixth-grade children wrote letters asking for information about the past and future of farming in the Shenandoah Valley, contacted local businesses, cleared the lot, chose what style the house and barn should be, measured and calculated the distances for the buildings and the crops, selected and planted crops, vegetables and flowers, chose what furniture would go into the house and with the help of a local stone mason and local carpenters built the house and barn. Through the planning and construction of the miniature farm the twelve- and thirteen-year old children learned mathematics, english, history, geography, art, home economics, architecture, and agriculture.
The "Little House" project gained nation-wide attention with its appearance in a Universal News Reel sound film called "Personoddities" which was sent to USO centers all over the world during World War II. The "Little House" project was also covered in several magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic Magazine (1948), Better Homes and Gardens, American Child (May 1931), Children of the American Revolution (September 1937), Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.
Details about the Little House and Barn's Construction
The "Little House" is a 10' high two-story, Dutch Colonial Revival style house. Contructed of native limestone with a gambrel style roof, the "Little House" has a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a working fireplace. A copper box was placed in the cornerstone of the little house containing a "Statement of Purpose." The "Statement of Purpose" was a document stating the purpose of the miniature farm and was signed by all the workers of the project. The "Statement of Purpose" reads:
"In order that children may have a laboratory in which they may learn to work together, faithfully laying the foundation for useful lives, we have built this little house as a unifying center of a minature farm."
The 10' high Little Barn has a wood frame and was constructed in the Dutch Colonial Revival style with the gambrel style roof. When the barn was first constructed it was located directly behind White Gymnasium, where present day White Hall is located. With the contruction of the new White Hall in 1974, the Little Barn was moved and placed behind the Human Resources Building.