Farrar School

Ghosts in this former elementary school reportedly still hold classes in spirit. Will you attend?

Farrar School’s haunting
paranormal activity

About 15 miles outside of Des Moines, Iowa, sits the remains of one of many farm-based hamlets that once dotted the land around the state. Now home to only a handful of houses and a sizeable church, Farrar, Iowa, would hardly be a blip on anyone’s radar if not for the largest building still standing in town: the old elementary school. Though classes haven’t been held there since 2002, Farrar Elementary remains the most popular and active place in town.

Between reports of spirits still lurking the grounds, and interested investigators hoping to catch those spirits at play, Farrar Elementary and its supposed hauntings help keep the entire town on the map. But what exactly makes this old schoolhouse such a hotbed for paranormal activity?

Farrar School’s History

In the early 1900s, Farrar grew in size as agriculture was increasingly industrialized and farm-heavy regions prospered prior to the Dust Bowl. A rail line constructed through the region in 1902-03, along with rapid expansion of nearby Des Moines, helped speed up development. In 1919, local farmer C.C. Geddes donated six acres of his farmland to the township for the foundation of a consolidated school in an attempt to combat the lack of adequate schoolhouses in rural Iowa.

The proposed building, and its $100,000 price tag, generated controversy in its time, but was constructed regardless of community members’ qualms. A dedication ceremony for the new school took place on April 1, 1922 and included an orchestra and banquet dinner. Citizens from miles around came to see the grand opening of the school and its numerous technological advancements, including boiler heating, electric lights, and indoor plumbing.

Farrar School, a hub
for education

At over 17,000 square feet, Farrar School far outpaced the need for Farrar itself, and took in numerous students from the surrounding area, becoming the educational center for numerous communities outside of Des Moines. Some say this influx of students would influence future hauntings of the building.


The End of Farrar School’s Tenure

Farrar School, both as a building and an institution, proved more resilient than many of its builders had likely realized. Even as the nation faced further economic downturns in the 1970s and 80s that hit family farms and farming communities hard, the little school continued with few stumbles.

But alas, every stretch of good luck eventually runs out, and by the early 2000s, a new schooling solution was needed. Much in the same way that previous one-room schoolhouses fell out of favor, demands for new technologies and services in school turned the tides against Farrar School.

Farrar School

In 2002, Farrar Elementary was consolidated into the Bondurant-Farrar Community School District, and the 80-year-old school building was set to close in favor of newer and larger facilities in Bondurant. On May 3, 2002, another grand ceremony was held, and much like the opening celebration, it included a banquet dinner and an orchestral performance. This day marked the finale of Farrar Elementary’s life as a functional school building. In the years that immediately followed, the old but sturdy building would sit dark and abandoned.

Farrar School Finds new Owners

But, this era of dormancy would not last for long. Jim and Nancy Oliver, with a unique interest in owning a building like Farrar, bought the elementary school building in 2006 with the hopes of converting it to their home. However, not long after they started their project, the two started to realize there was more to the Farrar School than an empty school house. From odd sounds to moving shadows, it started to seem like Farrar Elementary carried a few phantoms from its past life.

Is Farrar School Haunted?

Ghost stories around Farrar Elementary first arose in the final years of its use as a school. From the 1980s through to the school’s closure in 2002, employees and students alike began to notice strange occurrences throughout the building.

Spirits wandering the schoolhouse halls

Frequent reports included unfamiliar wandering figures and loudly slamming doors and, by the time of its closure, it was said to be an open secret amongst the students and staff that something supernatural had taken a liking to Farrar.

But, after closing its doors, the school’s hauntings sat in waiting for new visitors to experience their oddity. Luckily for the spirits of Farrar, the Olivers weren’t about to keep their odd encounters to themselves.

Farrar School’s Infamous Ghost Caught on Paper

Perhaps the most famous spirit at the Farrar School is the tall, dark shadow figure said to reside around the top-floor office. Spotted, and later sketched, by an early investigator of the school, the dark human figure has been seen by many investigators since then, and the drawn portrait of him hangs in the building today. Those who have encountered this spirit say his presence is domineering, like that of a disciplinarian principal.

Farrar Schoolhouse’s Aggressive Spirit

But, the upstairs shadow figure is far from the only spirit encountered at the Farrar School. Another common area people report shadows is in the old boiler room, where the spirit of a janitor is said to linger. This janitor’s shadow figure is a frequent report from investigators now. Also in the boiler room, visitors have gathered recordings said to include this janitor spirit’s voice telling them to ‘Get out!’

The Spirits of Curious Children

Curiously, the sounds of children playing have also been heard and recorded around the old boiler space. And while the sounds of children talking and playing have been reported throughout the entire building, the boiler room certainly stands out as the oddest place the sounds are known to manifest.

Farrar School

Shocking sounds at Farrar Schoolhouse

The tales of slamming doors still ring true today, with many ghost hunters and tourists reporting the loud sounds of doors slamming and closed doors that weren’t originally closed. Beyond that, loud unexplained sounds are frequently encountered-everything from knocking to crashing noises.

Some have reported that these sounds respond intelligently to questions and statements from investigators.

Shocking scents at Farrar Schoolhouse

Additionally, some rooms are known for sudden and unexplained smells wafting through, both pleasant and unpleasant. Through the years of investigation, the reports of moving shadows have also continued, some even being photographed by visitors to the building.

Farrar School’s Haunted Reputation Continues to this day

While no one is exactly sure where the spirits at Farrar came from, some believe it is just a result of the building’s long history of use and its placement during the formative years of many peoples’ lives. Others have hypothesized that the cemetery across the road from the school contributes to the hauntings, though this has never been confirmed or corroborated and the cemetery is not open for investigators’ review. Regardless of the uncertain source of the haunts, the paranormal reputation around the Farrar School cannot be denied.

Enroll for yourself…

In recent years, the old schoolhouse has been featured on several pieces of paranormal media including TV programs like A&E’s My Ghost Story, Destination America’s Ghost Stalkers, and Travel Channel’s Kindred Spirits. So if you’re ever near Des Moines, schedule a tour and experience Farrar’s mysteries for yourself. Just don’t end up in the principal’s office, unless you’re ready to come face-to-face with a lurking apparition.