BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) — It's almost finished.
Seven years ago, the historic Forest Grove School in Bettendorf was barely standing. But it had an iconic look that made it easy to love, and a story to tell about rural life and education during the late 1800s and into the 1950s, when state-wide school consolidation changed everything.
With those two qualities in mind, Sharon Andresen of Bettendorf spearheaded a multi-year campaign to save and restore it, the Quad-City Times reported.
Today, final touches are being made to the restored interior, and the first public tour to tell the school's story has been booked for April 30 for members of the Quad-City Times Plus 60 Club. The Pleasant Valley High School class of 1969 will tour during its 50th reunion in June.
"I can't believe the time is finally here to share this treasure with our community," Andresen said. "We're hoping to get some events for the public on our schedule for summer, fall and Christmas."
Regular visiting hours have been discussed, but no decision has been made yet, she said.
The school was built in 1873, closed in 1957 and is being restored to how it looked in 1923. It will operate as a museum/interpretive center.
All told, more than $200,000 has been raised and spent on Forest Grove, supplemented by a vast amount of "in-kind" donations, meaning donated labor and materials.
Recent work has included the installation of interior wood trim milled at Carver Millworks, Milan, two interior doors with window transoms from a schoolhouse in West Liberty and slate chalkboards that came from Davenport's former J.B. Young Junior High School.
All the original Forest Grove trim that was salvageable has been moved to one place — a small room in the school's southeast corner that contained outhouse-type toilets. This room also has exposed lath and plaster walls to show how the original school was constructed. In the restoration, drywall was used.
Still to come: installation of LED lighting above the windows and chalkboards so that the building can be illuminated at night, but without visible fixtures. That's because in 1923, there were no electric lights.
Once that's finished will come the fun of furnishing, Andresen said. Numerous student desks, a teacher's desk with chair, a piano, books and a Victrola record player are waiting in storage.
So far, the only piece original to Forest Grove is a table with folding legs donated by an area family. It is believed this table was set up for art lessons, Andresen said.
Items the group still wants to get include a recitation bench. In order to teach a room full of students in all eight grades, the teacher would have the children come to the front according to grade level and sit on a bench so they could listen or recite, Andresen explained. Meanwhile, other students would work at their desks.
Other items on the wish list are a 1920s coal-burning stove, a hanging globe (an old photo of Forest Grove shows a globe hanging from the ceiling), and a set of letters of the alphabet.
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com