The First Brick School


By 1894 it was apparent that something had to be done to alleviate the serious overcrowding of the 1879 frame school.  Even with the erection of the small school in 1894 for primary instruction, the other departments in the two story school had grown too large for the facility.

Meetings were held and a vote was taken to decide the issue in March of 1895.  Since this was many years before women had secured the right to vote,  it is worthy of note that five ladies voted, all of whom were in favor of the new school house.  Their votes counted!  One hundred seven total votes were cast to bond the town for $10,000 to build a new school house, of which 91 were for and 16 were against.

Work began at once to select a plan for the new school.  A committee visited the schools in surrounding towns to study their design.  The committee decided the new school was to contain eight classrooms, and in July 1895 bids were taken from contractors for the project.  Once the bid was selected, the old two story frame building had to be moved before excavation of the basement could begin.  A Mr. Kist was awarded the contract for $220 to move the building to the northwest corner of the lot, about where the parking lot for the Parker School now is.  This was accomplished by mid-June.  Classes would continue in the old building until the new one was completed.

Work proceeded rapidly on the new building.  By late October the brick work had reached the second story and by November the roof was on, and the rooms were ready for the plasterers.  The carpenter work on the school house was let to Mr. Skeen.  When completed,  the school had a seating capacity of 400.  On Friday, February 21, the new building was dedicated and the students were at work in it.  The total cost for the new building, including fixtures, was $18, 500.

By May of 1896 the old school buildings were advertised for sale.  Chris Sorenson bought the large frame building for $235.  Sorenson cut the old building up into three dwellings, all of them being large comfortable buildings, two 28 feet square and one 24 X 36, all ,of course, two stories high.  These units were placed on his acreage property on the north end of Market Street (now 4th Street).  These buildings no longer exist.

Dr. Wallace bought the small schoolhouse and moved it to his lots in Block 19, Morse Bros. Addition.  He intended to  convert  it into a small home to rent or sell.

The number of students increased, and by 1915 the brick building was seriously overcrowded.    An editorial in the Herald-Press stated, “There are some over 500 pupils enrolled in the local school and about 150 of them are in the high school.  It has been necessary to build two class rooms in the attic and because of the stairs to climb to reach these rooms has made it very inconvenient and unhealthy for the pupils, especially the girls.  The kindergarten department is now located in a small room off the main hall and is so crowded  that the work cannot be properly done therein and the main hall has to be used.  This is an exceptionally bad condition because of ventilation and because of fire, as in case of fire the halls should not be obstructed.  A basement room is also used for one of the grades and many parents complain because of the unhealthy conditions thereof, owing to poor ventilation and the difficulty of heating the room properly.”

These problems would soon be remedied by the erection of a new three story brick school in 1916-17.