The Cunningham School, Saunders County District 113 was originally located 7 miles north and 2 miles west of Valparaiso, Nebraska. It was first built in the 1800’s. It was destroyed by fire and replaced by this building in the 1930’s. The coat room and supply room were later additions. The school was retired from use in 1968. It was purchased from Adolph Klimert in 1975 by the Fair Board for use in the Heritage Village. It was moved to the Nature Center on November 1st, 2009.
During the school year, area 4th grade children have the opportunity to experience history as they spend a school day as it might have been in the late 1800’s. Standing on a hill at the edge of the Martin Prairie, the school is open to the public during special events.
“Thomas Jefferson Hudson was born in 1826 in Indiana. After several westerly moves, he rented an Otoe County farm in 1861. Two years later the Hudsons acquired a quarter section of land, through the Homestead Act, south of the village of Lancaster. On his arrival he noted that his only true neighbors were living in two dugouts on Salt Creek. Oak logs were hauled in from near Germantown (now Garland) in the fall of 1863 while milled flooring lumber came from Nebraska City with the almost unheard of luxury of wood shingles coming from McKisick’s Island east of the Missouri River northeast of Peru, Nebraska.
The cabin was noted as being the “largest and grandest house, and the only shingled roof, upon the whole site of [Lancaster] out on Salt Creek.”
At some early point the cabin was probably moved south of its original site to 2236 South 10th Street where, through the years, it was resided in and enlarged. In 1964, during a remodeling project, the “buried” cabin was discovered and purchased by Lincoln Mayor Dean Peterson who “saved it” for $5,000. The junior Chamber of Commerce set out to raise funds to reconstruct it inside a new structure to be built in Van Dorn Park, but the plan failed. The disassembled cabin was stored in a warehouse until 1974 when the Lincoln Parks Department transferred title to the Nebraska Historical Society. With the aid of funds appropriated by the legislature, the cabin was reconstructed as part of Heritage Village on the fairgrounds.”
- Jim McKee, Lincoln Journal Star article, November, 2009
On June 22, 2010, the Hudson Cabin was moved to Pioneers Park Nature Center. It is used during 4th grade Prairie Immersion hikes to give students a sense of the size of a ‘grand’ house in the early days of our city – it measures 14 x 16 feet! The cabin is open to the public during special events.