Washington County District No. 2 was formed in 1857 for the growing number of children moving into the area around Scandia, Minnesota. Classes were first held in local homes and then the (old) Elim Lutheran Church before the first small school building was built in 1866.
By 1895, a larger school was needed, so local residents chipped in to help build the first brick schoolhouse in the county. One of those men, Peter Roswell, lost his life when he was transporting a load of bricks to the building site and fell through the ice on the St Croix River and drowned. When it was completed, they found their hard work paid off because it only cost them $500 to build.
Three or four dozen kids attended Hay Lake School each year until the eighth grade. There was just one teacher, teaching in one room. There is a stage on one end of the main teaching room of the schoolhouse, a large woodstove to keep students warm, coat closets, a teacher’s office, and more recently, a restroom.
The Hay Lake District No. 2 school closed at the end of the 1963 school term. The old schoolhouse was boarded up and sat empty until a group of Hay Lake school graduates restored the building and opened it for tours and community events in 1970. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places that same year. Then, in 1974, the Washington County Historical Society took over the site’s management and opened it as a museum.
Today, the Hay Lake School is open for tours on weekends in the summer (check the Washington County Historical Society website for specific information.) You can find Hay Lake School on Old Marine Trail and 195th Street N, just south of Scandia.