WELTON, Iowa — John Holst of DeWitt, who began attending school in Welton as a fourth-grader in 1936, says a Holst attended the school every year since then until 2002.
On Wednesday morning, he leaned on his cane and watched his alma mater come tumbling down.
“A lot of memories in there,” he said.
Demolition began Wednesday on the school, which was closed last summer by the Central Community School District after 85 years due to budget constraints and declining enrollment.
School district Superintendent Carol Hansen also watched as an excavator, starting on the southeast corner of the old school, slowly and precisely picked it apart, separating the rubble into piles of brick, wood and steel.
She said she had mixed feelings about the sight, having listened to many people’s stories about their time at the school.
“We have to make sure we keep those alive,” she said.
Photos and trophies from the school have been donated to the City of Welton, as was the cornerstone that was recovered from the building Wednesday. Hansen said the cornerstone contained a copy of an old newspaper.
J.C. Martensen of Welton, who said his children, his wife and her parents all went to the school, was on hand to take photos for the city.
“I think it’s sad,” he said. “A lot of people had a lot of memories in there.”
The school’s gymnasium will be saved and used by local athletic teams. The district is accepting bids on 1.2 acres of the school grounds until 1 p.m. Monday and will hold a public hearing to sell the property at its April 12 school board meeting.
Steven Martens can be contacted at (563) 659-2595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.