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Preserving the Past

David Larson likes old things.

So when he learned that the old schoolhouse his grandmother once attended was on property he had recently acquired, Mr. Larson decided to restore the building.

Until recently, the one-room school, once known as the Sherwin School, sat unused. A year ago, Mr. Larson, a grain farmer, enlisted the help of some friends to move it onto his farm in Willow City, N.D., 60 miles west of Minot.

He has been working on the school off and on ever since. It was built around 1902 and used until 1958. In its later years, the building served as the Wellington Township Hall.

"It was just sitting there in the country, and I thought I would get a kick out of refurbishing it," Mr. Larson said.

Hoping to keep the schoolhouse as authentic as possible, he bought a set of old blackboards and several student desks of the era. He managed to keep some of the original siding and painted the school's interior and exterior.

By a stroke of luck, some well-preserved items were still in the building. Included were a set of maps that show the Louisiana Purchase area and the route of the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

Now that his farming duties have slowed, Mr. Larson, 53, hopes to devote more time to his project. He expects to have a finished product by the end of April.

"I feel thankful to have it and to be able to keep some of the tradition alive," Mr. Larson said. But he has promised the school won't just sit unused: In addition to preserving a bit of history, it will serve as a workshop or hobby shop for him.

—Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 20, Issue 12, Page 3

Published in Print: November 22, 2000, as Take Note
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