Today’s high school shop teachers do a great job in guiding 15 to 20 students through the process of creating useful pieces of furniture and other household items. The students at Moffat County High School in decades past really had a jump on today’s shop classes however. Craig’s teachers for Industrial Education classes in earlier years led their students in what today would be an impossible undertaking — the building of houses. The Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig is trying to identify exactly how many buildings those classes built over the years.
Chuck Osborn, Class of 1950, recalls how he and other members of his Industrial Ed class built a house for Mildred Jobe who was a teacher at the high school. Chuck said teacher James Johnston led the students as they built it onsite behind the high school which today serves as the Craig Middle School.
“We did the framing and the floor and roof joists there right behind the school. It had to be straightened out two or three times,” he laughed. “As a couple of times it got run into at night! It probably had more bent nails in it than any other house in Craig.”
They started the house in September of 1950, using only their daily forty-five minute shop time. By November the roughed in structure was ready to move to its permanent location at 750 Breeze Street. Once on location, the students continued to work on the house, but as Chuck remembers it, most of the finish work was left to professionals. Jobe lived in her home until her retirement in the mid-1970s. Though the home has undergone several remodels and additions, it still stands at its original location.
Another familiar landmark house in Craig is the Gordon Winn home, which stands at the northeast corner of Ranney and 10th Streets. This is a classic 1950s house, which was also built at the school by the students in the fall of 1951. After being roughed in, it was moved to its present location in January of 1952. Gordon and his wife Caroline lived in the home until her recent death. The home recently was sold and is now undergoing interior renovations though the gracious exterior style will remain the same.
The museum is curious about any other buildings that might have been constructed by the high school shop class during that era. If you have any information about these buildings please contact the museum at 970-824-6360 so we can document the construction. With today’s rules and regulations such projects would not be possible. Those early students were fortunate indeed to be equipped with such valuable hands-on experience to take into the work world upon graduation. That legacy still stands in various places around Craig, and the museum thanks those who can help us identify those homes.