Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 22, 2004

Old Hollywood school gets ready for 100th birthday

By Jenni Sebora

People visit the Hollywood Sports Complex to play volleyball, softball, bowl, or just eat and socialize.

Regardless of their activity, most people would find it difficult not to notice the nearby small, white building standing on the southeast corner of Carver County Roads 21 and 122. A sign outside reads “Hollywood Town Hall.”

At one time, as the Hollywood town hall, it served as the site for the monthly township meetings and polling place.

In the building’s steeple, however, hangs a school bell, reminiscent of the years it was District 76 School.

The school was built in 1906 and served students for more than 60 years.

As the building nears its 100th birthday, area residents became interested in preserving the historical building. Through its various fundraising, the Hollywood Boosters helped finance restoring the old school.

“Lots of the older (schools) are gone,” said Kathy Johnson, who lives one mile east of the building.

In the early 1900s, districts were numbered in the order that the schools were built. The Hollywood school was the 76th building to go up, so it became District 76.

Johnson taught at the school during the 1950-51 school year. The building could hold 22 students. She taught 17 kids from first grade on up.

“It was a busy schedule, but the older students would help the younger students with their work,” Johnson said. “It was a good experience.”

To keep the school open, a basement was added in the 1960s, which meant hot lunches could be served and “spring primaries” could be implemented.

For six weeks, spring primaries were held for kindergarten-aged students to have a trial run of school, Johnson explained.

New Germany resident Elaine Schlueter was one of the cooks, Johnson said.

In the 1970s, with the student population dwindling and country schools closing, the district was dissolved into the Watertown school district.

The building, which once had little feet scampering about, now had bigger shoes treading its floors, as it changed from a school to the town hall.

In the 1990s, a new town hall was built, and the small, white building that began as a country school, sat empty.

Now, activity is again brewing in the old school as area residents work on its renovation.

A basement wall has been replaced and some interior walls have been painted. Part of the roof and steeple has also been repaired, Johnson said.

In hopes of using the building for meetings or community gatherings, bathrooms will be updated and the entrance reconstructed. so both are handicapped accessible.

To keep those school memories alive, the building is furnished like an old school, with desks, a library table, and old pictures, Johnson said.

Many of Johnson’s uncles attended the school, so the building holds fond memories and sentiment for Johnson and her family, as well as other families in the area.

“It would be great for farmers working in the area to use it as a chance to get together with other farmers as a gathering place,” Johnson said.

As in years past, maybe school or church Christmas programs will soon be heard from within its walls.

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