History: Sparta, Wisconsin High School (Burned 2 Dec 1895)

 

Contact: Janet

Email: janet@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

 

Surnames: Smith, Schmid, Huschka, Bloomingdale, Blyton, Huschka

 

----Sources: Robert Treuting's Schmid-Stanley Collection, History of Monroe County, Wisconsin, past and present, pgs. 289 - 291

 

Sparta, Wisconsin High School

(Burned 2 Dec 1895)

Postmarked: 14 Aug 1907, Sparta, Wis. (1 cent U.S. stamp)

 

Addressed: Miss Josie Smith (Schmid), Humbird, Wis.

SPARTA SCHOOLS

An article written by Dr. D. C. Beebe in 1897, after long service on the school board, from which we quote as follows :

"I see back in the '60s an important personage in educational affairs here. He really is the pioneer, for no worthy pretentions to aggressive educational work were made here before his time. He was rough in manner, untidy in dress, of strong personality, had a tender heart, and an unflinching courage that never forsook his convictions, let come what would. Closely allied and almost inseparable, w^as the educational institution of the place at that time — the new brick school building just finished and equipped.

"Prof. J. Bloomingdale was not only principal and superintendent of the Sparta schools, but he was the oracle, the compendium, the beginning and end of all matters of public education. He planned with great nicety the new school building, and superintended its construction with jealous care; and when it was completed, it was to him the embodiment of all that was then worth knowing in school architecture. I remember distinctly the first quasi-theatrical that I enjoyed in the new building one Friday.. It was a grand success. The house was filled with proud fathers and mothers. The stage appointments were admirable, and the costumes of the players all that the delighted patrons could wish. The principal, with unshaven face and bushy, frouzled hair, seemed enveloped in a halo of glory as the good work went on.

"Professor Bloomingdale was a type and teacher of the old school, and as such he held the ground without a rival. Death called him home before his eyes ever saw the dawn of the new educational era. What seemed to him to be the acme of school house perfection fell far short of what is demanded for our children today."

The building mentioned in the foregoing quotation was the brick high school building built on the present site of the grade school in 1868-69 at a cost of about $13,000, and was considered at that time as a high school building well in advance of the usual buildings devoted to this purpose. How the school system developed is concisely and entirely described by William H. Blyton in an article on the Sparta schools, from which we quote very freely as follows:

"Prior to 1876 the progress of our schools was retarded by false notions of economy. To be sure, we find built from lime to time fairly good school buildings, but evidently hut little care was given to the matter of selecting experienced teachers. If a suitable and competent principal was secured it seemed to be the policy of the authorities to fill the other places in the schools at the lowest possible cost. Not until after a special meeting of the electors of the district, which was held on the 27th of July, 1876, at which time the people there present unanimously resolved to organize a free high school district under the law of the state, being chapter 322, general laws of 1875, Was sufficient attention given to the selection of subordinate teachers and adopting wholesome rules and regulations. when this was done the school seemed to at once spring into new life and began to attract attention. Sparta schools had been under the immediate care and direction of Professors Bloomingdale, Smith, Cummings, winter and Clark, and the corps of teachers have been increased from seven in 1870 to sixteen in 1897. The question of providing more and better accommodations for the school appeared to have been settled for all time, as many of our people then supposed, by the erection of the high school building in 1868-69 at a cost of $13,000, but as the population of the district increased the demand for more and better school buildings became so pressing that not- withstanding the additions and alterations heretofore made to the several buildings the school board at the annual district meeting on July 1, 1895, reported as follows :

"The problem of what we are to do with our overcrowded school without more school loom. has confronted the school board for more than a year. When the present high school building was built the school census of the district showed between 500 and 600 children of school age, the census just taken shows over one thousand children of school age. It has finally come to this — something must be done, some plan must be devised that will relieve these overcrowded schools or they will greatly suffer for the ensuing year". Indeed, if no relief is provided the board is of tile opinion that the half-day plan should be adopted and preferable to crowding so many pupils together.  Upon the foregoing report and at the suggestion of many citizens the people were prompted to act, and the result was finally recorded on July 8, 1895, by the adoption of proper resolutions authorizing  the raising of necessary funds to purchase additional ground and to build a new high school building."

"The school board immediately took the proper steps to secure the necessary ground, caused plans and specifications to be prepared for such new building, and on the 26th day of September, 1895, awarded the contract for the new building to L. V. Huschka, of Sparta, for the sum of $18,379.66, and work thereon was promptly begun, and the present high school building was completed and ready for occupancy September 1, 1896. The destruction of the old high school building by fire on December 2, 1895, again called for prompt action and an additional outlay of money. Again the people were assembled in special meeting on December 30, 1895, to authorize the construction of a new building to take the place of the one destroyed, which was done without a dissenting voice. On July 6, 1896, at the annual meeting of the district, more money was voted and the result of the action of the taxpayers in the district is the two fine, substantial school buildings of which we are all so justly proud. With the loss of the West Primary building by fire on January 3, 1892. the high school building on December 2, 1895, and the W. C. T. U. building, in while the high school Was temporarily located, on April 6, 1896, it will be seen that the duties of the school officers and teachers have not been altogether easy to perform and the demands on the taxpayers by no means light. However. we have survived and today are in possession of fine buildings and equipments which have cost as follows :

"High school building, $18,379.66; seating and furnishing, $938.75 ; intermediate building, $12,280 ; seating and furnishing, $628.55; Depot school building, $601.05; boiler house and boiler, $1,703; East Primary building, $1,200; West Primary building, $1,020.55; estimated value of school grounds, $9,800; making a grand total of $49,551.56 invested for school purposes. The annual current expenses of conducting the schools have increased from $6,668.21 in 1876 to $11,617.76, being an increase of $4,919.52. While this is cpiite a large increase it is not so large in proportion as the increase in the number of scholars."

The raising of necessary funds to purchase additional ground and to build a new high school building."

"The school board immediately took the proper steps to secure the necessary ground, caused plans and specifications to be prepared for such new building, and on the 26th day of September, 1895, awarded the contract for the new building to L. V. Huschka, of Sparta, for the sum of $18,379.66, and work thereon was promptly begun, and the present high school building was completed and ready for occupancy September 1, 1896. The destruction of the old high school building by fire on December 2, 1895, again called for prompt action and an additional outlay of money. Again the people were assembled in special meeting on December 30, 1895, to authorize the construction of a new building to take the place of the one destroyed, which was done without a dissenting voice. On July 6, 1896, at the annual meeting of the district, more money was voted and the result of the action of the taxpayers in the district is the two fine, substantial school buildings of which we are all so justly proud. With the loss of the West Primary building by fire on January 3, 1892. the high school building on December 2, 1895, the high school was temporarily located, on April 6, 1896.  It will be seen that the duties of the school officers and teachers have not been altogether easy to perform and the demands on the taxpayers by no means light.

The above article was written in 1897, History of Monroe County, Wisconsin, past and present, pgs. 289 - 291

 

 


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