Work has begun on the stabilization and restoration of the old Forest Grove school in Bettendorf, and organizers hope to keep the momentum going with the benefit showing at 6:30 p.m. Saturday of the Emmy-nominated documentary “County School: One Room, One Nation.”
The showing at Pleasant Valley High School, 604 Belmont Road, Bettendorf, is a fundraiser to keep work progressing. Admission is $10.
Already, the 1873 one-room school has been jacked up and squared by Goodwin House Moving Inc. of Washington, Iowa, and forms have been put in place for the pouring of a new foundation that will be donated by Ken and Ron Hoffman, owners of Hoffman Construction Services in Bettendorf. Hahn Ready Mix, Eldridge, has offered to donate the concrete floor.
So far, money has been raised through donations and a car wash.
The “Country School” documentary was made by Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Moline and their Fourth Wall Films. Saturday is the first time the film will be screened in high-definition, and the showing will be followed by a question-and-answer period with the Rundles as well as updates on the school.
Photographs and artifacts from the school, which closed in 1957, also will be on display.
Tickets may be purchased at the door, by credit card at www.ShowTix4U.com, or by calling 866-967-8167.
The film combines images of both restored and decaying buildings with surprising, humorous and heartwarming stories from former teachers and students. More than just nostalgia, “Country School” also delves into the dark side of the one-room school experience and dispels the myths behind the revered institution that helped bind a young nation together. The filmmakers visited more than 70 one-room schools in Iowa, Kansas and Wisconsin, including Forest Grove, to make the film.
“We filmed Forest Grove during a snowstorm in 2009, and I remember thinking it would soon be gone — never dreaming that it could be rescued,” Tammy Rundle said. “We were so happy to learn about the determined group of people with vision working to save this important local landmark.”
Once restored, preservationists plan to open the building to third- and fourth-grade students for re-enactments that would meet Iowa history curriculum requirements. Seasonal events also would be hosted at the site and community groups would be encouraged to use the space for small functions.