Meticulous preservation work continues on the interior of Forest Grove School in Bettendorf, Iowa. The one-room schoolhouse was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary Country School: One Room - One Nation, produced by Kelly and Tammy Rundle, and was feared near collapse.
Forest Grove preservationist volunteers Sharon Andresen and Rod Blunk talk with documentary filmmaker Tammy Rundle about the progress being made on Forest Grove School.
"Forest Grove was built in 1873 and is a remnant of the time when most Iowans lived on farms, sending their children to one of the 12,623 or so country schools that dotted the state about every two miles.
These schools helped shape the character of the state, and they helped build Iowa’s reputation — somewhat eroded today — as a leader in education, having the highest literacy rate in the nation, and its strong support for local control and neighborhood schools." ~Alma Gaul, Quad City Times
The school closed in 1957 and became the property of former student Delbert Blunk and his family. Now 140 years later, the nearly dilapidated icon has found new life thanks to the efforts of preservationist Sharon Andresen and the Blunk family.
Much has taken place since restoration work began in March of 2012, including fundraising events, grant writing, research, evaluating and planning, documenting oral histories, collecting archival materials and photographs; rehabilitation donations and volunteer assistance with siding, building lifting and stabilizing, creating and squaring the new foundation, repairing floor joists. New engineer plans were created; the not-for-profit Forest Grove School Preservation 501(c)3 was formed, and an application for the National Historic Register has been submitted.
And, though they are eager to open the doors to a fully saved and restored country school, Sharon Andresen and the Blunk family know too well there is much more work ahead. But that doesn't discourage them in the least. They are paying close attention to detail and doing what is right for the school, Andresen says.
They welcome strong volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves and lend a hand. And they are grateful for donations through their non-profit organization.
You can help! Send donations to the Forest Grove School Preservation charitable organization at PO Box 603, Bettendorf, IA 52722, visit www.ForestGroveSchool.com and make sure you LIKE the fan page of Facebook. And, help spread the word!