Sharon Andresen, a leader in the restoration of Bettendorf's historic Forest Grove School, has been having fun these days listening to former students share their memories of the school.
"I always tell these cherished folks, 'I can help restore the building, but only you can tell the stories,'" she said. "And that's what's important to bring the life back."
Andresen tries to tag along as Moline filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle interview former students, now between the ages of 65 and 98. Their video-recorded stories will be part of an interpretive program when the restored school, which closed in 1975, opens as a museum.
"We love it when they tell how they got into mischief," Andresen said of the former students. "The punishment at home was generally more than the punishment at school."
Common memories including sledding on a hill near the school in winter, appearing in the Christmas program and attending the annual community picnic held on the last day of classes in spring.
So far, Forest Grove School Preservation has raised $145,000 in private donations and grants to restore the one-room school.
Members expect to raise more on Friday, when they will host their fourth annual Trivia Night and live pie auction at the Golden Leaf Banquet and Convention Center, 2902 E. Kimberly Road, Davenport.
Doors open at 6 p.m. with trivia beginning at 7 p.m. The cost is $10 per person or $80 per table, payable at the door.
The next big step in the restoration project is the construction of a replica bell tower. LeClaire carpenter Ben Taylor is crafting the components of the 17-foot tower that must be finished this year to meet the requirements of a state Historical Resources Development Program grant the restoration group received.
The replication is based on a 1923 photograph. The school was built in 1873 but is being restored to its 1920s appearance.
Rescue efforts for the once severely dilapidated school began in 2012. Since then, the exterior has been almost completely restored (roof, windows, siding, door, trim), a new foundation was built, and a furnace was installed.