Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Memories of Jerome, Iowa - Part III - Schools

  Records show that the first school site, eight rods square, and known as School District No. 5, was purchased from Jacob Stoner July 11, 1857, for the consideration of $10.00.  This site was the northwest corner of the present school property.  It is assumed that the first school building was built the same year as the property was acquired, and it served as a place of learning until 1871 when a new school was built. 
  James Hagan was the carpenter and for his labors he received the old school building which he made into a part of his home, later the home of William Hawkins.   The second school building was used until 1894 when the population of Jerome required a larger building.  The increase in population was due to the sinking of coal mines.  This building is now the residence of Paul Mica.
  One of the early teachers in this second building was Theodore P. Shonts, later internationally famous.  After teaching at Jerome, he was graduated from Monmouth College, practiced law and became interested in railroad building.  He helped construct the Iowa Central and obtained controlling interest in the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, and Toledo, St. Louis and Western roads.  He was chairman of the Panama Canal commission in 1905-1907.

The two-story frame school building, 1894-1920

  A two-story frame structure, the third school building served until it burned on April 25, 1920.
  Anyone attending the Jerome School during these early periods will well remember the blacksmith shop located east of the school grounds and owned by Peter Wilson.  It was always a place of interest to the children.  To watch Mr. Wilson shoe horses was far more interesting than to study in school.
  The new building was of brick and was ready for occupancy at Christmas time in 1923.  In the interim school had been held in various places in town; the old Catholic church, and in a house which later became the W. E. Hawkins home. 
  This fourth school building also was destroyed by fire of unknown origin on April 27, 1931.  The fifth building was ready for occupancy late in September of the same year, classes being held in the K. of P. Hall until its completion.  This present building is much like the fourth, constructed of brick and with full basement.  Half of the basement was made into an auditorium with stage.  A modern system was installed and the building was wired for electricity which on Dec. 24, 1936 was furnished Jerome by the Iowa Southern Utilities Company. 
 [From Memories of Jerome, Iowa, 1989 published for the 1989 Jerome Reunion.]

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