Nestled in the pines at the top of Grangemont Road stands the old Grangemont Schoolhouse. Sporting a brand new coat of “New England Schoolhouse Red” paint, the school yard is empty and the rooms are quiet,
The structure has withstood the education of several generations of children, endured many hard winters, and was the site of many community Thanksgivings and Christmas programs. It served as the Grangemont community hall, as well as the precinct during elections. Women residing in the neighborhood gathered regularly to attend cooking classes held there.
At some point, Clearwater Archers had used the building as an indoor range. “The building was destined to be converted into a hay barn,” said Dan Massey, the present owner of both schools, “and I just didn’t want to see it happen.”
Massey may live and work in Mansfield, Texas, but he is certainly no stranger to our neck of the woods. The beauty of the seasons and simplicity of life in our county has captured a place in his heart.
His first trip to the area was in 1969, when he came to visit a buddy he had served with in the military, the late Gary Geidl. Massey, now 74, recalls that he had just been discharged from the Navy and was in his mid-20s. Massey said he had stayed with the Geidl family and became well acquainted with and quite fond of the whole family. Massey said that once he had been hunting with Gary and his brother Monte, he returned year after year. “I met a lot of different folks and really enjoyed it up here.”
In 2006, Massey purchased a five-acre parcel, to include the old Meadowview School and the newer Grangemont School next to it, which were built in 1920 in 1953, respectively.
Though the old schoolhouse is practically 100 years old, little is recorded of the history. Hopefully, more information will be discovered as this article is published.
Clearwater County Clerk Carrie Bird was able to find the old census records for the district.
According to the School Census Marshal’s report for the 1920-21 school year there were 18 students who attended the school between the ages of six and 21, all from eight families residing in District 33. I thought it was interesting to note that there were no “deaf or blind” students, no “cripples” or “feeble-minded” students in attendance that year.
In an old photograph dated 1939, three buildings are shown: the grade school, a gym, (reported to have had a basketball court) and a third smaller structure, to have been the high school.
Massey explained the gym had burned down and possibly the high school too, though the exact year hasn’t been established. When the second high school had served its purpose and was no longer needed as a school, Gary had used his rig to put the structure on skids and hauled it up to Kludt’s property to spend the remainder of its days as a tool shed.
Massey had met Tommy and Kathryn Thompson during his visits and felt Tom’s skills and entrepreneur type nature would be just the thing to help refurbish the old schoolhouse. Tom had retired, but not entirely, and Massey said he thought he’d give him a few projects to occupy his time.
“The dirt on the hill behind the school had sluffed off, piling up around the foundation. It eventually rose and rotted the plate. The walls were insulated with cardboard. The only thing holding up the back wall,” said Massey, “was the plaster.
“The building was jacked up and the plate was replaced, so it’s a pretty nice building now. We’ve been working on it a little every year, and have been able to live in it for the past 10 years. Massey explained that though he couldn’t spend as much time as he’d like, he spends what time he can at the schoolhouse. He almost never misses being here during hunting season.
“We stayed with the same floor plans. We refinished the floors, and replaced the kitchen cabinets which were over 50 years old.» A vintage white double sink with the washboard counter top was found at a flea market in Texas and restored to perfection, before being shipped to Idaho.
A Monitor refrigerator was purchased at an auction and fills one corner of the kitchen. Though the old Monitor is impressive, and rarely seen these days, Massey explains that they still had to purchase a newer and more efficient model to use when they were at the schoolhouse.
The main room of the schoolhouse is spacious and light with high ceilings. The original windows have been refurbished and line one side of the building. The furniture is from the 40s, to include several retro chrome and Formica dinette sets.
The hanging globe lights were those salvaged from the Grangemont School, as well the Peck Elementary School, The schools were constructed in the early 50s using the exact same floorplan. When the school district updated the lighting at the school in Peck, the old lights were no longer needed. Massey credits Mindy Pollick for her help in his finding just the right lighting.
Some may think it odd that all that work spent on reviving the old schoolhouse was for the sake of a hunting lodge. It depends who you ask…I for one am thankful that it took someone from out of the area to realize what the building stood for and all that it meant to the families who grew up with it, as well as those to come.
If you have more information to add or clarify, the Clearwater Tribune appreciates your comments.