It’s clear that the schoolhouse in Lamar, WI is a place of pride for the community. It has become a landmark as the last remaining public building in the once-booming town. The county boasted 144 similar schools in the early 1900s, most of which are no longer standing, making the Lamar schoolhouse even more special.
It’s always lovely to see old schoolhouses like this restored and cared for. Standing there with the wind blowing across the farm fields, I realized it probably doesn’t look much different than it did in the early 1900s. You can almost hear the original bell in the belfry ringing to hustle kids into the building. And it wasn’t hard to imagine sunlight and fresh air reaching into the school rooms through all of those big lovely windows.
The town of Lamar was located along the Clam Falls Trail, bringing new settlers into the area as early as the 1870s. When the Lamar State Graded School opened in 1905, the town was in the midst of an influx of Swedish immigrants to the area. The one-room schoolhouse soon wasn’t big enough and became two-rooms. Then an addition in 1928 raised the schoolhouse to sit over a basement and an entry vestibule was added to the center of the building.
Lamar grew into a farm town that boasted a creamery, post office, general store, and brickyard. A church once sat next to the schoolhouse. Many families grew potatoes and it was all hands on deck during harvest season, so the school closed for three weeks so the kids could help out.
But by the 1940s, the population of Lemar had dwindled and only a handful of children attended class in the old schoolhouse. It closed for good just after Christmas 1945. However, the community wasn’t going to let the schoolhouse go to waste. They held community events there before it was officially transformed into a community center in the 1960s.
Local families donated their time to fix up the school and add a stage and seating areas to make the spaces more efficient for meetings, plays, dances, and other activities. Today, the community center is available to rent for gatherings. Visit their website for more information, history, and photos.