I've always enjoyed looking through photos of abandoned buildings. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) since I'm not a detective, secret agent, [or bad guy], I don't end up in old empty warehouses or houses with squeaking doors, falling axes, secret tunnels underneath, and wind blowing through broken window panes very often.
One place, however, which I had wanted to tour since early this year when I visited the Austinville Historical Society and heard stories of the town's many bank robberies, defiance of a presidential mandate, attempted burial of an effigy, and wild softball games, was the public school where these colorful Austinville citizens studied and/or sent their children.
|The Music Room|
When school districts were consolidated in the area around my home, some old schools were left vacant, including the public school in Austinville, Iowa. It was built in 1916, and served the community until 1968 or '69, according to local man Larry Harken, who attended the school from 6th to 8th grade. Mr. Harken remembers riding his horse, a Palomino named Trigger (after Roy Roger's horse), to school on more than one occasion.
His family bought the school in 1981, and used it for their lumber and construction business. During the 1984 financial crisis, the bank foreclosed on them. They were kicked out on a Wednesday at 2 pm. He recalls that when he asked the bank why they chose to foreclose on them, the bank told him that they knew they could get their money from him. Other farmers and business owners were in so deep that even if the bank foreclosed they wouldn't get hardly anything.
Later, the building was used by a golf cart business and a type of nursery. Now the church owns it. For a while they used a room downstairs as a Sunday School room. But now it's becoming a liability and will soon be bulldozed.
Before that is done, however, Mr. Harken's job is to salvage everything useful from the building. He's taken out most of the old chalkboards, and is working on the lumber.
A classroom is shown above. Part of what used to be the gym/basketball court is below left. Bottom right is the room the church used as a Sunday School for a while. They painted one wall with very bright colors.
The schoolhouse grounds had plenty of room for a recess area with slides and the like, and if I understood correctly, what now is the cornfield across the street used to be the softball field.
I'm sure this old clock would attest that time is fleeting. The photo on the left is of the Austinville marching band in its glory (you can click the photo to enlarge).
I'd very much like to thank Mr. Harken for the fascinating tour, and for the work he is doing to save the old chalkboards and whatever can be salvaged from the building. It was wonderful to hear his stories from when he attended school here. And I'm finally able to check off "touring an abandoned building" from my mental bucket list!