After six years of slow but steady restoration work and fundraising, the historic Forest Grove School in Bettendorf may be finished and ready for visitors in spring of 2019, project coordinator Sharon Andresen said.
The most recent task has been to plaster-coat the walls of the one-room school, which will be followed by painting in a color described as "dirty yellow" by the school's oldest living alum, 100-year-old Alberta Young.
"The reality of this project's completion is starting to set in," Andresen said. "The classroom is beginning to feel like a place where kids were instructed in reading, writing and arithmetic."
Over winter, Carver Millworks of Milan will finish the interior millwork, including the custom-replication of door and window casings, doors, transoms, wainscoting and the chalkboard framing.
A small amount of exterior work remains, too, including grading of the land around the school and installation of window shutters, concrete steps and sidewalk and outhouses.
Then will come the final step of furnishing the school with items authentic to the period, Andresen said. The school was built in 1873, closed in 1957 and is being restored to how it looked in 1923.
The group working to restore the building has lots of desks, a large teacher's desk, slate boards, books, a piano and Victrola record player, Andresen said. Still on the to-get list: a pot-bellied stove and a set of letters of the alphabet.
The school on Forest Grove Road was literally falling apart when Andresen and members of the family on whose property the building stood launched what sounded like a far-fetched restoration project in the winter of 2012.
When finished, the school will be used as a museum/interpretive center.
All told, about $200,000 will have been spent, supplemented with a great amount of "in kind" donations, meaning donated labor and materials.
Much of the money has been raised via direct "asks" and fundraisers including Birdies for Charity, the fundraising arm of the John Deere Golf Classic. This year's netted around $6,000, Andresen said.
"We're in year number six, and we always wonder if people are going to lose interest," Andresen said. "But we continue to increase our donor base. There's always some new interest."