Take a look back at the history of the old school as building a new Cedaredge Elementary School and restoration of the 1920 Consolidated School building gets underway.
In 1919-1920 the school district worked toward constructing one large building to accommodate all students in grades 1-12.
Small one- and two-room school houses in the surrounding areas would be closed, with the children transported to and from the large Cedaredge Consolidated School, in the belief that a more varied education could be provided.
Mountjoy & Frewin, an architect ﬁrm from Denver, designed this and other public buildings in Colorado between 1916 and 1929. The T-Plan is considered a ﬁne example of the type of school buildings of the time period. W.E. McKee was the building contractor.
Delta Brick and Tile Company manufactured the yellow brick for the main part of the building. The raised basement walls are of poured concrete, covered with stucco. The original wood shingled roof was replaced with asphalt shingles during the late 1950s or early 1960s. Original front steps have been replaced with concrete steps and metal railings. The structure’s appearance remains an example of the Mediterranean Revival style of architecture.
An earlier 1910 brick high school, at the same location, preceded the present building. In the spring of 1920 the school closed early so the building could be torn down and construction could start and be ready when the fall term started in September. Another building, a two-story elementary school (1900), stood nearby. Often referred to as the “White House,” it remained for many years, providing a dining area for hot lunches, a music room and space used as housing for a custodian.
Bricks from the old high school were recycled and used to build outside walls of the gym/auditorium. It was a shell and remained unﬁnished for a time. There had been enough money in the budget to build the outer walls only. The community gathered together and completed the project, raising $10,000, with volunteers completing the project.
The auditorium was the perfect place for school and town sporting events and was used for elections, town meetings, concerts, dances and other community events. There was a stage (at least 15 feet wide) across the west end of the room. Steps on both sides gave access to the raised platform.
Sometime in the early to mid 1950s, a minstrel show featured a cast of local talent including Doris Stewart, Bob Watson and LeRoy Chinn. Mrs. Bull was the music director. Dances were regular fund raising events. The Firemen’s Ball was the dance to attend each year. A 1958 poster announced a dance given by the American Legion, with proceeds to beneﬁt Boy’s State. Orman DeBeque’s Band, with Orman on trumpet and Blackie Blackborn’s trombone, were popular with the locals back in the 1950s.
When Jack MacAdams was interviewed in 2002, he said, “With the stage taking up part of the space, there was not room for a full sized basketball court. LeRoy Chinn constructed six retractable basketball hoops, two on the south wall, two on the north wall, and one at each end to increase availability of baskets for practice” He also mentioned that 17 of the 23 graduates in 1932 had started ﬁrst grade together and attended all 12 years at the Consolidated School.
The new school had enough room for all the classes, with lower grades at the north end, upper grades using the south end and basement classrooms.
Doris Stewart recalls, “I attended the Consolidated School from the ﬁrst through the ﬁfth grades. In fact, I actually started in the old building. There was a lot of ﬂu that year. I had it along with many others and missed a lot of school time. When I started back, the new building was completed.” She recalled, “There were a large number of ﬁrst graders that year . . . so many that half of the ﬁrst graders went to school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.”
Both of Doris’ sisters graduated from the Consolidated School in 1923 and her daughter Naomi attended all 12 grades there.
Margaret Mills attended Consolidated School for all 12 years, graduating in 1938. The ﬁrst memory that she recalled was of her teacher punishing her for not returning to class after lunch. She sat outside until recess, then joined her classmates, thinking no one would notice. Punishment required her to write a sentence (she doesn’t recall the words) on the blackboard 100 times. Another memory was of “a big rock at the north end of the school. It was shaped like a chair. We had a lot of fun playing on and around it.”
Margaret remembered that J.A. Hunsicker taught her Latin, algebra and geometry classes in high school.
Irma Brisco attended the high school for her last three years, graduating in 1941. She recalls that study hall was held in the basement. There was a science lab down there too. She remembers the dances, including her prom, band competitions and other activities that took place while she was going to school there. Wayne Bruton was the school principal at the time.
Former students recall that the school board allowed “time off” for several weeks during apple harvest so that junior and senior high school students could help pick fruit. The practice was either still in place or reinstituted during WWII.
Eckert High School closed in 1943 due to lack of available teachers. Students were allowed to choose attending Cedaredge or Delta high schools.
Some college classes, at least in agriculture, were provided for adults at the school during the early 1950s.
Hunsicker Elementary School (more recently referred to as Cedaredge Elementary School) was built in 1959. Classes through the sixth grade moved into the new building on Feb. 5, 1960. Seventh though 12th grades continued in the 1920 building, with the sixth grade classes retuning to the older school after half a year.
In 1977, the 1900 “White House” building on the grounds was still there, being used for science classes, an auxiliary gym and stage plays, the stage evidently removed from the auditorium by then.
A new high school was built for the 1981-1982 school year. Middle School students and teachers could spread out a bit. Two additional modular buildings were added with swamp coolers and forced air natural gas heat.
The building was showing its age. Electrical and heating systems were outdated. The basement held the last remaining coal-ﬁred furnace in the state. The small classrooms were cold in the winter, hot in the spring and fall. The ofﬁce and cafeteria/multi-room was across the street in the elementary school.
In 2002 voters passed a bond issue to build a new middle school in Cedaredge, along with approval of other school buildings and school improvements in Delta County.
Now the plans are to replace the elementary school, remodel and restore the entire historical brick 1920 building. Energy efﬁcient elements will be added to the old. The new structure will be attached to the back of the brick building.
There will no longer be a need for the children to walk back and forth across NW Cedar Avenue and security will be improved with the new design.
Bits and pieces used here were located in back issues of the Surface Creek Champion, Delta County Independent, Hazel Austin’s Surface Creek Country, Colorado State Historical Society, Surface Creek Valley Historical Society, and interviews with local residents.
blog comments powered by Disqus