Concrete footings were poured Tuesday at Bettendorf’s historic Forest Grove School, the latest step in an effort to save and preserve the one-room wooden landmark.
The materials and labor were donated by Hoffman Construction Services Inc. of Bettendorf, and Tuesday’s work will be followed by the building of a concrete block foundation, also donated by Hoffman.
Once that is finished, Goodwin House Moving Inc. of Washington, Iowa, will return to set the dilapidated school — which the company previously stabilized and lifted up on steel beams — on the new foundation.
When restoration work on the school began, the bowed building was barely hanging on at the four corners, with the original foundation having fallen away. As part of the stabilizing work, the building also got a new sill, the horizontal timbers that form the bottom of the structure.
After the building is set on its new foundation, those hoping to save the school will turn their attention to the roof, said Sharon Andresen, one of those spearheading preservation efforts.
“We want to get the school under cover before winter,” she added.
Family Legacy Construction of Buffalo has said it will donate the new roof, but first the rafters will have to be inspected to determine whether they are sturdy enough to support a new roof — and the roofers. If not, money for new rafters will have to be raised, she said.
At present, the group has raised enough money to cover the work by Goodwin, with perhaps $500 to spare, she said.
Applications for grants have been made to the Scott County Regional Authority and the Bettendorf Rotary, with decisions on those expected before the end of the year, she said.
A screening Saturday night of the documentary “Country School: One Room, One Nation” attracted a little more than 100 people, which was considerably less than what the group had hoped for, but the event raised about $3,000 in donations, Andresen said.
Group members also are going to send a mass mailing in the neighborhood of the school site to ask for donations.
And they anticipate the installation of a new wood sign identifying the school, which is being donated by Hightech Signs of Bettendorf.
The school was built in 1873 and closed in 1957, becoming dilapidated over time. In February, a group that includes the children of the late Delbert and Jeannette Blunk, the couple on whose land the school was built, announced plans to try to save the school.
Their organization, known as Forest Grove School Preservation, still is working to secure nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax status, but it is operating in the meantime under the 501(c)(3) status of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend.
The school is on Forest Grove Drive, just east of where the city’s new 95-acre Forest Grove Park will be developed, an area of farm fields and high-end homes.
If restoration is successful, the Forest Grove group envisions having the building open to schoolchildren as a kind of re-enactment history lesson. It also could be reserved and used by the community for various functions.