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Saving An Historic Schoolhouse

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Saving a schoolhouse.

Supporters of an historic one room building in Bettendorf trying to do that by watching a documentary Saturday night about historic structures in the Midwest.

Trying to raise money to restore one right here.

The Forest Grove School House belonged to a farm family with deep roots in our area.

And those former owners turned it over to a preservation group. To turn it back into a place of learning once again.

The Blunk family has owned the farm land surrounding the school house since 1880.

They bought the Forest Grove School after it closed in 1957.

It's been decaying over the years as the family tried to figure out what they wanted to do with it.

But after their parents passed away, the five siblings decided to save it for the next generation.

"My father and his sister went to school, not sure about previous generations, older brothers Larry and David Blunk also went to Forest Grove School," says Barbara Andersen, one of the five siblings.

She was too young to attend the school. But says it played a role in her early years.

"We used to play in the school, it was always pretty neat, we just always took it for granted that it was here," says Andersen.

Her friends would stand in front of the schoolhouse playing teacher. Now she, and her four brothers have given the deed to the schoolhouse to the Forest Grove School Preservation group.

"It could have been our decision to throw a match in it, or do what we're doing, and I think the community deserves the possibility of being involved and helping us out with what we want to do here," says Larry Blunk.

He passed kindergarten and first grade at the school before it closed. He already saved the merry go round.

"They were going to widen the road and they were going to take it out, and, so we got a lot of spins out of that thing over there," says Blunk.

And even the school bell.

They plan to turn back the clock in the school house to 1940. Allowing today's third and fourth graders a look at old school education.

"There's not a day that goes by that not a half a dozen people stop by," says Andersen.

Curiosity the family wants to see capitalized on. Preserving a piece of their family history.

"If they didn't go to school here, their parents or their grandparents, might have gone to school here."

And the rest of the community's too.

The schoolhouse, Forest Grove number five, was built in 1873.

It served students until it closed in 1957.

Efforts to save the 139-year old building began earlier this year.

 

Correction: This story has been edited to reflect the proper ownership of the Forest Grove Schoolhouse. The deed belongs to the Forest Grove School Preservation group. Not the Blunk family as originally reported.

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