School: Reed School - New Exhibit Opens (5 Jun 2014)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Smith, Suchow, Grottke

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 6/07/2014

New Reed School Exhibit Opens June 5 (2014)

New Reed School Exhibit Opens June 5

By Todd Schmidt

Visitors are invited to participate in the unveiling of a new exhibit at the Reed School Historic Site in Neillsville Thursday, June 5, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Free admission will be offered, along with hors d’oeuvres and fun activities for the entire family.

The exhibit celebrates the era of the one room school in Wisconsin. Visitors can explore oral histories from former Reed School students, listen to vintage Wisconsin School of the Air radio programs and attempt to pass the 1939 eight-grade graduation exam.

Visitors can also browse through the records of Reed School to learn the strict rules for teachers and explore the experiences that shaped education in rural America.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society website, Reed School was built in 1915. It served as a one-room country school through 1951, providing education for students in grades 1-8 with only one teacher teaching all grades and subjects.

Before 1960, most rural Wisconsin kids were educated in a one-room school like Reed School. One-room education reflects a less mobile, more rural time in history. The wide diversity of ages provided opportunity of ages provided opportunities for older students help their younger peers, which is an attribute today’s schools find desirable but difficult to achieve.

The school is typical of the more than 6,000 one-room schools that dotted the landscape of rural Wisconsin.

Gorden Smith’s memories of attending first grade at Reed School in 1939 were the catalyst leading to its restoration and reopening as the Wisconsin Historical Society’s 10th historic site.

His cousins, Glenn Suchow and Linda Suchow Grottke, both attended Reed School and never missed one day in eight years.

Smith funded the top-to-bottom restoration of Reed School. He hired Isthmus Architecture Inc. of Madison to design the restoration and oversee construction. While the school could represent any time period between its construction in 1915 and its closure in 1951, the site planners decided to specifically interpret the 1939 school year.

In cooperation with the Wisconsin Historical Society, the firm completed preservation plans and drawings in less than four months. Twelve months of exterior work followed, resulting in a restored cedar shingle roof, windows, doors and masonry. Architects also designed a wheelchair-accessible entrance tucked into the back of the school.

Isthmus documented the interior finished and wall colors, which workers replicated. Tin ceilings, plaster walls and woodwork regained their original luster as tradespeople discretely added modern mechanical, electrical and security systems. Original furnishings were restored to re-create the appearance of Reed School in the 1940s.

As decades of overgrowth were removed, the original baseball field and outhouse were restored. In addition, a new composting toilet facility was added.

A gala celebration took place June 10, 2007, to recognize Reed School as the first Wisconsin Historical Society historic site of the early 20th century.

This family enjoys the outdoor area in front of the Reed School. Visitors to the restored one-room school can explore the experiences that shaped education in rural America. Contributed photo/Wisconsin Historical Society




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