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History of Little Red Schoolhouse

When the first settlers arrived in their communities, they built three things in this order: a home, a schoolhouse and then their church. The school building soon became the center of cultural life in the community.

This schoolhouse was built in 1909, replacing an older building. It originally stood in the center of Bennington Township, four miles east of U.S. Highway #63 on the Dunkerton Road and then two miles north, near St. John’s Lutheran Church. It was thus known as “Center School,” and because of its location was used as the voting place for the township. The voting records were kept in the storage room to the right of the front entrance.

The Black Hawk County Conservation Board purchased the building in 1966 for $1,000 from Donald Sage. It was moved to Black Hawk Park in 1968 and given a new foundation and roof. At that time, restoration work was undertaken by several local groups, most notably the Cedar Falls teachers, who chose this resource as their Bicentennial project in 1976.

The old school was originally white and is now painted red. This historical building is equipped with a bell tower and bell, blackboards, pot-bellied stove, old desks, books and other furnishings typical of its earlier days.

In the fall of 1987, the Yesterday’s Heritage Quester Chapter #809 visited the little red school in Black Hawk Park. Wanting to donate to or help with the upkeep of the school, they found what was really needed was a new location. The search for a new home began, and in a short time, a site was designated in the Riverfront Beautification area near the Ice House Museum at First and Clay Streets. It took a year of planning, fund raising and help from the public and private sectors of the community to make this dream become a reality.

The building was moved on October 6, 1988 to its present location.

In the fall of 2000, the bell tower was removed and restored, and the roof was once again covered with wooden shingles. Thanks to the support of our Friends of “R” Little Red School and the community, we were able to restore some of the authenticity of this structure.

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