Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Should this Minnesota country schoolhouse be saved? June 24, 2016

 

The Le Sueur School District 18 schoolhouse, located at 35278 141st Avenue, rural Montgomery, Minnesota.

The Le Sueur County School District 18 schoolhouse, located at 35278 141st Avenue, rural Montgomery, Minnesota.

THE WEATHERED SCHOOLHOUSE sits on a slight rise along the gravel road, surrounded by a clipped lawn bordered by farm fields.

Hardy daisies thrive next to the schoolhouse.

Hardy daisies thrive next to the schoolhouse.

On this Sunday summer afternoon when I’ve discovered the aged building just off Le Sueur County Road 26 two miles east of Montgomery in Montgomery Township, the wind is rippling grain fields and bending daises nestled into an exterior corner of the schoolhouse.

Windows need repair/replacing.

Windows need repair/replacing.

As I brace myself against the wind, I notice shingle debris scattered across the grass. I notice the weathered grey of unpainted siding, the rotted boards, the barn swallow and wasp nests. I notice how much this schoolhouse needs care and upkeep.

A rear shot of the country school.

A rear shot of the country school.

In 1888, Wencel and Mary Petricka sold this parcel of land to Le Sueur County School District 18 for $1 to build this school. In 1957, when the Le Sueur district consolidated with the Montgomery School District, the little one-room country school closed.

Consider the hands that once turned this knob opening the door to an education.

Consider the hands that once turned this knob opening the door to an education.

And here it stands, a year shy of sixty years after closure, seemingly abandoned. Except for that mowed lawn and that patch of daisies. Someone still cares. And that gives me hope. Hope that someone will find the money and the inclination to save this piece of rural Minnesota’s educational history. Before it’s too late.

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Three rooflines: entry, classroom and bell tower.

Three rooflines: entry, classroom and bell tower.

IT’S EASY FOR ME TO WRITE, Save the School. But the issue of financing often blocks the path to such endeavors. Do you have any creative ideas to fund a repair and restoration project? Perhaps I should first ask, should the schoolhouse be saved? I don’t even know who owns it.

Perhaps an American flag will fly again some day on the corner of the schoolhouse.

Perhaps an American flag will fly again some day on the corner of the schoolhouse.

In September of 2015, Le Sueur County School District 18 held its first ever reunion. With 31 alumni and guests in attendance (including a former teacher), there’s clearly an appreciation for this Minnesota country school.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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14 Responses to “Should this Minnesota country schoolhouse be saved?”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Unfortunately there are too many structures like this that litter the landscape everywhere we visit. It always makes me wonder what the story is behind the building–especially when it is an abandoned farm or house. What happened that the place was just left to deteriorate on its own? There are so many stories that this school house could tell but we will probably never really know the whole story, right? My favorite picture today is the roofline picture –great perspective.

  2. Sue Ready Says:

    Funding plays a major role saving old buildings like this schoolhouse as well as land developers. A weathered schoolhouse standing upright against a stark rural landscape speaks volumes about about all those things that have come before us and truly represents life in rural Minnesota.

  3. Marneymae Says:

    *Wow*
    What a charming structure!
    Gorgeous fields…
    Wishing I had the means to just up & move there to live in it!
    I do send a blessings for its preservation.
    I’d chip in some money if a project ever is undertaken.
    Do let me know if it occurs.
    Such buildings, as you well know, just aren’t made any more.
    Seems worth saving.

    • It would make a great little artist or writer’s retreat/studio/workplace, wouldn’t it? Yes, if anything develops, I’ll alert you. Thanks for caring so deeply about this Minnesota schoolhouse so far from your home in upstate New York.

  4. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    What a charming building. Like Marneymae, I’d love to fix it up and live there. Such a shame to see pieces of history just deteriorate and be abanded. An artist building would be adorable, but this probably means moving the building into town which is another cost factor, but could be done. Let’s hope someone comes to the rescue. Keep us posted.

  5. Dan Traun Says:

    Save them whenever possible and practical. Minimally preserve their existence through a photograph if they must be torn down.

  6. Beautiful old School house. I hope that they find the funds and man power to save it

  7. Jayne Says:

    Goodness!! This school is down the road from my Grandma and Grandpa Rosival’s farm. My mother, Leona, attended that school for grade school till 8th grade. The one story I remember her telling was one day her father showed up and told the teacher that everyone should be released from school due to bad weather coming. The bad weather….Armistice Day Blizzard of November 1940


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