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Open house Sunday at historic Maher Schoolhouse

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Photo by Tamie Meck The Maher Schoolhouse south of Crawford on Highway 92 is a testament to the one-room schoolhouses that were once ubiquitous throughout rural Colorado. The Maher-Onion Valley Community Club, which owns and maintains the property, will h

The Maher-Onion Valley Community Club will host an open house from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 12, a the Maher Schoolhouse on Highway 92.

At the turn of the 19th century, one-room schoolhouses were common among rural communities. The Maher Schoolhouse replaced an original schoolhouse, which was destroyed by fire, in 1917, said club co-president Susan Ayer. The club owns and maintains the property. The Maher school remained open until 1950 when Maher joined the Crawford School District and students began attending Crawford School.

A renovation of the classroom was completed this spring. Work included reinsulating the walls and installing new sheetrock. The drop ceiling was removed, revealing an original stamped tin tile ceiling. Light fixtures salvaged years earlier from the old Crawford School were installed.

The project was completely funded by the community, said Ayer. Crawford resident Randy Wolf donated his time and skills to completing the renovation work, which began just after Christmas. That the community, including several newer residents, funded the work says a lot about the character of the people in the area, said Ayer.

The his and hers outhouses remain largely intact but could stand a little work. They also are considered historical structures. "I think it's one of the special things about this place," said Ayer, explaining that the privies were made through the Works Progress Administration and designed to keep flies out and be more sanitary, thus preventing the spread of disease. It's unusual to have one, let alone two, as few survived, said Ayer.

The triple horizontal bars on what was once a playground are also original, and the tops of a dozen small card tables, purchased by the club sometime in the 1950s, are decorated with advertising from about 50 Delta County businesses, which represents a micro history of the area's businesses of the time.

Like most one-room schoolhouses, the building has always been a central community meeting place. In addition to club meetings, the Montrose County Commissioners hold meetings there every year. Montrose County also leases a portion of the property for a county shop, which helps with maintenance and upkeep of the property, said Ayer.

The club plans more renovation work, beginning with the foyer. Other plans include renovation of the kitchen and a bathroom. A history exhibit of the school, the Maher Post Office, and the former Clear Fork School are also in the works.

The Maher-Onion Valley Community Club currently has about 20 members and meets monthly except for the summer months. "We are always looking for new and younger members," said Ayer.

Sunday's open house runs from 2-5 p.m. Invitations were sent out to the former students, said Ayer. "We're hoping it will be a mini reunion."

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North Fork
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