Reed School

Grant Township

Clark County, Wiscsonsin

  Four Articles related to Reed School.


New life for old one-room schoolhouse

From: Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

October 4, 2006, Front page

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon on October 8, 2006.   

Located along US Highway 10 about two miles east of Neillsville, the 1915 Reed School, its name still displayed over the transom of the front entrance, looks the mirror image of its former self in the 1917-1918 school year when students of all eight elementary grades gathered outside for a group picture.

 (Photo courtesy of Linda Grottke, a cousin of Gordon Smith, who attended Reed School in the late 1940s and early '50s and never missed a day in eight years.)

The Reed School has been endowed with a renewed purpose, thanks to a philanthropist whose treasured childhood memories about the one-room schoolhouse, he once attended is leading to the restoration of the school building as the Wisconsin Historical Society’s 10th historic site.

 Gordon Smith was a student in the first grade at the Reed School for only one month in the spring of 1939, but his experience has lasted a lifetime.  A city kid from northern Indiana staying with his grandparents while his parents took a month’s vacation, he was well received by his country classmates, Smith recalled last week.

 “It was a pleasant experience,” said Smith, now 74 and living in Potomac, MD, near Washington, D. C.  He remembered the sense of family among the students that included a bit of sibling rivalry.  “The fourth graders tended to bully us first graders but the seventh and eighth graders were quite protective and became our heroes,” he said.

 Smith said he can recall the ritual of going up to the front of the classroom and reciting to the teacher, then sitting down and overhearing the second, third and fourth graders as they took their turns going through their lessons with the teacher.  As the subject matter got more difficult, it helped inspire him to study harder.  “I knew I had to do my homework,” he said.

 Smith said he also remembered the playtime, the ringing of the school bell, the outhouses, even the kindliness of a farmer living nearby who, since the school did not have a well of its’ own, brought a fresh pail of water to the school every day.  “We all drank out of the same ladle,” said Smith.

 Smith would return to the large urban school in Gary, IN, complete his education and eventually move to the East Coast and find success in the home building industry in which he is still active.

 From time to time, Smith has returned to Neillsville to visit relatives, but also to revisit old memories.  Parked in front of the school, he still fondly and easily recalls them.  “Including,” Smith added, “the exact spot outside where the teacher took me aside for a firm lecture on good behavior.”

 It was all an enriching time, according to Smith, who explained that everyone in Neillsville whom he interacted with as a youngster provided values, including hard work, high moral standards and reaching out to others, that he carries with him to this day. 

 “Restoring the Reed School is a means of paying back,” he said.

 Through the generosity of Smith and his wife, Helen, the Reed School will once again see service as an educational institution, this time as a re-created one-room school house where today’s students can experience a day in the life of students attending a country school long ago.  Smith is not only funding the restoration from top to bottom, his family foundation will also provide a continuing endowment to fund the school’s educational programming and ongoing maintenance.

 Once the Smiths formally transfer the restored property to the Historical Society, the staff of the H. H. Bennett Studio in Wisconsin Dells will take over its day-to-day management, focusing on interpreting rural one-room school life between 1915 and 1951 when the school was closed.

 “Reed School offers an extraordinary opportunity to tell the stories of one-room country schoolhouses that constituted a major part of the nation’s educational system,” said Ellsworth Brown, Historical Society Director.  “We are truly grateful for Gordon and Helen Smith’s magnificent contribution to the people of Wisconsin.”

 An open house or a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the school will likely be held in the spring or early summer, according to Historical Society Public Information officer Bob Granflaten.

 H. H. Bennett Studio is expected to be booking tours of the school in May of 2007.  Planning for other uses continues.  Besides spring and fall group visits, possibilities include using the school for history-related workshops, open houses, and summer weekend visitation for the general public.


Reed School to open doors for a day

From:  Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 8, 2006, Page 2

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon, November 17, 2006. 

The 1915 Reed School, currently undergoing restoration as a historic site, will be open to the public on Saturday Nov. 18th. 

Anyone who attended, or is otherwise interested in the old one-room schoolhouse, is invited to stop in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Dale Williams and Janet Dykema, who are affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society, will be there to greet former students and answer any questions about the historic society’s plans to hold tours, student visits and other activities at the school on a regular basis starting next year.

Along with obtaining oral histories from former students, the historical society is also looking for any photographs and report cards, even furnishings, that might have been part of the school before it was closed in 1951.


 Old Reed School open house brings happy recollections

From: Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 November 22, 2006

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon, December 6, 2006.

Lawrence Stanley (center), 83, of Marshfield, returned to the Reed School’s open house last Saturday where he shared the contents of his first report card, showing an A grade average, with Janet Dykema and Dale Williams, of the Wisconsin Historical Society which hosted the event.  An estimated 75 people came to visit the former one-room school house that provided the elementary education for generations of children from 1915, when it was built, until it closed in 1951.  Many of Saturday’s visitors were former students who shared both memories and memorabilia of their elementary school days.  The Wisconsin Historical Society, with funding from a large endowment by one-time Reed School student Gordon Smith, is in the process of refurbishing both the exterior and interior of the building and plans to open the school to areas students and the public on a periodic basis next year.

 Editor’s note: The historical society is seeking photos of the interior of the school during activities such as Christmas programs.  If anyone has pictures of that nature, please contact Dale Williams at the H. H. Bennett Studio & History Center, 215 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965; 1-608-253-3523 or email


Prep time at Reed School

From: Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 18, 2007

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon.

The Wisconsin Historical Society was out at the old Reed School in obvious force on Monday, getting ready for the fast-approaching June 10th dedication of the former one-room school house along U. S. Highway 10 east of Neillsville.  Coming up from the Society offices in Wisconsin Dells to move some of the old, traditional row of desks into place are (from left to right) Greg Parkinson, deputy administrator of historical sites, Dale Williams, director of the Reed School site and Jeff Murray, curator of education.  The 93-year-old school building is expected to be ready to “teach” once again before June 10th.  The Wisconsin Historical Society will be opening its doors with special interpretive lessons for area 4th-graders starting on May 14th.

Invitation to the Reed School Open House
June 10, 2007.

  Web page by   James W. Sternitzky PhD

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