Restoration of Historical School Continues in Spring City – Press Release 7/23/2004

DATE 07/23/2004 2:03 PM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Restoration of Historical School Continues in Spring City

An effort to save a beloved old schoolhouse is continuing in Spring City. The Friends of Historic Spring City have recently increased their activity supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of the 100-year-old Victorian structure, raising and spending more than $100,000 on renovations this year.

“Community support has been crucial for our efforts to save this building,” says Gary Parnell, who is helping lead the initiative “People have opened their homes to strangers, donated their valuable, but unused items to rummage sales, and rolled up their sleeves to help with clean-up projects and fund raising activities.”

The school has stood proudly in downtown Spring City for more than 100 years. It is featured on city council letterhead and is prominently displayed on the city’s logo. “The old school is considered to be a superb example of public school architecture in Utah,” Parnell says. “It also has come to symbolize the cultural heritage of our town. Many of the people who grew up here attended school in the old building and have unique stories to tell about their experiences within its walls. Others who have come more recently to our town see the building as one of the historical and artistic qualities that drew them to make their homes here.”

The school, located on Centre Street, has not been used as a teaching institution since the 1950s. Built in 1899, it has eight classrooms, four on each level, as well as a large attic space, complete with windows. At one time, it housed all the grades, and was even used as a middle school and high school. A “new” elementary school was built next to the Historical Old School in 1920 and uses for the old school began to diminish. Eventually, the old schoolhouse became a make-shift storage facility for the school district.

The Friends of Historic Spring City started raising money to save the building. Two years ago, an art show and sale was held in the old school and the school was added to the annual Heritage Day Home Tour on Memorial Day weekend. The combined art sale and tour brought in more than $13,000 last year and $17,000 this year, according to Parnell. A community rummage sale raised an additional $8,000 this year, and a generous donation from an alumnus of the school added $10,000 to the total. “These amounts were combined with money raised previously, and a total of more than $60,000 was spent on a contract to build a seismic structure between the second level ceiling and the third level floor of the school. When this amount is matched with a grant from the National Parks Service (Save America’s Treasures) the total expenditure for this year’s renovations will be over $100,000,” Parnell says.

Already, the school has received a new furnace, curb and sidewalks and electrical wiring. The next phase of the restoration is likely to include, further seismic stabilization, plumbing and electrical systems for the upper floors, stairway repair and finish work to the walls, ceilings and floors, Parnell says.

In the near future, the Friends group hopes to continue the Heritage Day activities, solicit further funding from friends and alumni of the school, and approach local foundations that have been supportive in the past. They are also exploring the possibility of publishing postcards and prints and of making a documentary film featuring former students and their memories related to the building.

Among the uses for the school that have been considered is a proposal to open an artist-in-residence retreat, with art classes offered to the public.

For additional information on the Old Historical School restoration, call the Spring City offices at (435) 462-2244.

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For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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