Brewster School

Thayer City Museum board president Ken Adams, left, former president Bill Bolinger, center, and Thayer Homecoming exhibit director Dick Holtzman, right, look over the restored Brewster School that will be dedicated Saturday morning during the Homecoming. The school was moved to its present site in 2009.


THAYER — The Thayer Museum will have a dedication Saturday for one of the biggest antiques in its collection – a building.

The one-room Brewster School will be dedicated at 9 am Saturday as part of the 108th Thayer Homecoming activities. Homecoming Queen Coronation will be at 10 am and the parade will be 11 am Saturday.

The dedication caps approximately a decade of effort to preserve the schoolhouse since it was moved to Thayer from three miles north and two miles west of the town.

Then-museum board president Bill Bolinger, whose wife Betty attended the Brewster school, found out the building was for sale. The previous owner intended to convert it into a home when he bought the land, but later used it to store feed.

“(We) couldn’t find anybody to move it at a reasonable price, so we decided to move it ourselves,” Bolinger said. They bought the schoolhouse for $1,500 at a time when one-room school buildings were disappearing.

Organizers borrowed equipment to move the building to Thayer, current museum board president Ken Adams said.

Reportedly, the building dates to 1872 and was used until 1963, when rural school districts were consolidated. Three carpenters built the school for $1 to $1.25 a day, and it cost a total of $300.

“I got more than that wrapped up in paint,” Adams said.

Windows were covered by metal and the front porch had been removed. Bolinger said he nudged and marched the project along and urged Adams to take over.

Adams and his son Jason worked on the building, replacing  the  ceiling, trim and doors, and reconstructing window frames. The tin preserved the windows, Adams said, and two of the panes are original.

They also stripped and cleaned the hardwood floor. Adams said he thinks some of the stains are from ink spilled by students.

“It’s got character,” he said.

Adams said they have worked steadily for the past month to get the school ready.

“In the last 10 years, I probably got more hours than any of the students that went here,” he said.

Tuesday, he moved in a cast-iron stove donated by a local resident. He said the stove is in the original location, because the floor is burned where the original stove stood.

The original chalkboard was plaster painted black, Adams said. It was replaced with a slate chalkboard.

A bell in front of the schoolhouse came from the Lone Elm school four miles west of Thayer. Dick Holtzman, head of the homecoming exhibit hall, said he attended Lone Elm and got to ring the bell. He recalled that Brewster had a quartet that performed at box suppers.

Adams said they hope to bring in a teacher’s desk and student desks, so children can come and see what early schools were like. He said they doubt they will install air conditioning, but the school has a couple of ceiling fans.

Visitors will be able to tour the schoolhouse after the coronation Saturday to see photos of the move and a computer slideshow of the restoration work.


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