Community members come together to save early school house
by Michelle Watson
History is about to come alive in Clear Lake, thanks to some generous community members.
Dale Snyder and family have partnered with the Clear Lake Historical Society to begin a restoration project on the 1872 school house located at 501 N. 5th St. (behind
the Clear Lake Public Library.) According to Sarah Clausen Mooney, executive director of the Clear Lake Historical Society, work has already begun and the hope is to have the first phase completed before the snow flies.
The Snyder family has agreed to cover all the costs of the project until the Historical Society can raise the $150,000 needed. Dean Snyder Construction, in partnership with Holland Contracting, will be the contractors.
The Historical Society will soon be launching the “Save the School House Campaign” to raise the needed funds for the project. The campaign will include brochures and mailings to inform potential contributors of the project. Fundraisers will also be held, including one on March 9 at the Clear Lake Arts Center called “An Affair to Remember.” This fundraiser will feature past and present artists.
“The restoration project comes at a critical time, as the building is in bad shape,” said Clausen Mooney.
The building being saved, and Clausen Mooney herself, have a rich history with the property.
In 1872, Clear Lake was growing and there was not enough room for the 200 students. The City Council passed a referendum that gave $836 to build the original school house, according to an article in the local newspaper in 1872. Clausen Mooney’s great-grandfather, S.J. Clausen, purchased the property in 1890. He built a home on the property and he converted the school house to a carriage house in 1895 for his horses. Many items from the original school house were put into storage at that time including desks, slate boards, fixtures, student records, books and the original school bell. Some fixtures, such as the swinging, glass lamps have never been removed from the original building.
S.J. Clausen left the property to his daughter, Louise Clausen. The property was later passed on to S.J.’s nephew, Max Clausen. Max also left the property to a nephew, Fritz Clausen, who is Sarah’s father.
Clausen Mooney has already been sharing the home’s rich history with others. At the Clear Lake All School Reunion held in September, Clausen Mooney gave tours of the property dressed as her great-aunt, Louise, who was the first woman to manage a grain elevator in 1910.
“Our hope is that the 1872 school house, along with the Clausen house, will become the first Clear Lake living history museum,” said Clausen Mooney.
According to Clausen Mooney, the plan is for the school house to be a real, functioning school house with actors who will perform various trades. Course work will also be offered to the public in such crafts as stained glass, iron work, crocheting and lace work. She said the Clausen home will house offices and a genealogical resource center, in addition to hosting special events and home exhibits.
“We want to hold high teas in the spring and summer and special - Read More Via e-Edition