Keweenaw County Historical Society

Caretakers of the past, stewards of the future


The Rathbone School / Knights of Pythias Museum

The Rathbine as a one-room schoolLocated in Eagle Harbor, two blocks west of the harbor’s swimming beach, this extensively restored one-room school served the community from 1853 to 1872.  The photo above shows the current building as the way the building appeared ca. 1900 with a tour of guests from the fraternal lodge, The Knights of Pythias. It was in this building that Justus H. Rathbone, who began teaching here in 1860, conceived the idea for the ritual of the Knights of Pythias, a secret fraternal society which he founded. This interdenominational organization, which had a peak membership of a quarter-million, continues to conduct its charitable work today across North America.

(Photo: One side of the Rathbone School is set up as an original one-room schoolhouse.)

The other side of the Rathbone School contains regalia and memorabilia commemorating the Knights of Pythias.The school has long been an object of pilgrimage by society members. In 1931, a thousand members gathered to pay homage to their society’s founder and to witness the unveiling of the nearby granite monument in honor of Justus Rathbone.

(Photo: The other side of the Rathbone School contains regalia and memorabilia commemorating the Knights of Pythias.)

Visiting The Rathbone School Museum

Hours & Admission- The Rathbone School and museum is open mid-June to early October.  The 2021 opening date expected is June 21st.  Hours 9 AM - 5 PM daily.  There is no admission charge for this museum however a donation is appreciated.

Location- The Rathbone School is located at the intersection of 3rd and Center streets in the town of Eagle Harbor, Michigan. GPS: N 47 27.441  W 88 09.761,Decimal Degrees: 47.45735, -88.16268

Related Links-

KCHS museum sites and the cottage rentals will be opening for the Summer of 2021, except the Bammert Blacksmith Shop which is closed for repairs.  Sites expect to open buildings during the week of June 20th.  See the museum sites’ webpages for opening dates and hours.

Public events have NOT been scheduled, except for the Woodward Concert in Copper Harbor on September 22nd and Cider Making at Central on September 25th; both events will be held outside.  See the Events/Adventures in History webpage for more information.

The Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Board of Directors will follow the COVID-19 Epidemic Orders issued by the State of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.  These public health orders are updated as needed, so KCHS may need to change access to buildings and events.  This spring, group events held inside community buildings were not allowed.  Therefore, KCHS cancelled the Adventures in History programs for the summer.  

Please check back for updates.
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