Restoration of one-room schoolhouse near Meeker wins state accolades
MEEKER — It’s difficult to imagine students riding horses, uphill both ways, to reach their tiny one-room schoolhouses. Now, students in Northwest Colorado won’t have to imagine, thanks to an award-winning work performed by a dedicated group of preservationists near Meeker.
On Jan. 31, the 2018 Stephen H. Hart Award for Historic Preservation was presented to Rio Blanco County and Rio Blanco County Historical Society for the restoration of Coal Creek School.
“The room was packed with a couple of hundred people,” said Janet Clark, Rio Blanco County Historical Society – Rural School committee.
The Coal Creek School is a one-room schoolhouse with a seperate privy — outhouse, with girls and boys rooms, divided by coal storage — and a horse shed built in 1892.
It’s located about six miles east of Meeker and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Colorado Register of Historic Properties and the Rio Blanco County Preservation Register.
Plans to restore the school were drawn-up about 13 years ago by Architect Joede Schoeberlein, from Civic Forum Associates, who had seen the school, but the plans sat in his office until 2013, when members of the Rio Blanco County Historical Society – Rural School committee contacted him.
“Patience and perseverance are necessary to restore historical buildings. It has taken over five years to restore the Coal Creek School, buildings and property. It is still a work in progress. The Hart award would never have happened if we hadn’t worked with and hired people dedicated and passionate about preserving a historical building to its original appearance,” Clark said.
The project was also supported by more than $185,000 in grants from History Colorado; other grants; business, organization and individual donations; and events such as a dessert auction, yard and bake sales, spaghetti dinner and rubber ducky races.
“The people of Rio Blanco County all deserve an award for trusting and supporting us in turning a 125-year-neglected rural school into an award-winning building,” Clark said.
History Colorado showed a video of the Coal Creek School restoration before presenting certificates to representatives from Rio Blanco County; the Rio Blanco County Historical Society; the architectural firm Civic Forum Associates, Inc.; and MM-Eight Construction.
“History Colorado began presenting the Stephen H. Hart Awards in 1986 to recognize outstanding projects and individual achievements in archaeology and historic preservation throughout Colorado. Stephen H. Hart was Colorado’s first State Historic Preservation Officer,” according to the History Colorado website.
Restoration of the school is expected to continue this year, when the belfry, which is currently being built, will be secured in place, and the privy/coal shed and horse shed will be renovated.
Coal Creek School is available for rent for small events, with rental fees contributing to the on-going maintenance of the historic, award-winning building.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
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