A school on the move?
When someone talks about moving schools, usually it’s a student who’s moving. But in the Cardiff area of south Glenwood Springs, a small group of history buffs are trying to relocate the schoolhouse itself.
The little white schoolhouse known as the Cardiff School is located just off Airport Road on property owned by Mike Alsdorf and Downvalley Gutter. Until recently, Alsdorf used it to store rain gutter materials. But he’s agreed to donate the structure to the Red Mountain Friends of Historic Preservation, a group created for the sole purpose of moving and restoring historic structures.
“We made it our mission so we can move buildings,” group member Marice Doll said. “We also may move other buildings.”
Since group members learned they would acquire the building, they spent $11,000 to build a foundation in the city-owned Conservancy Park in the Park East subdivision. Once moved, the school will again be used, this time to educate children on river ecology.
“We could also open it up to the public and rent it out,” Doll said.
The city maintains the park and Red Mountain Friends will restore and maintain the building.
According to Doll, the school was built in 1887 for the residents of the bustling coal town of Cardiff. At its peak it accommodated 75 students and two teachers and the population of the town was 400.
Around 1936, however, the coal boom ended and the town dwindled. To make room for the city airport, the schoolhouse was moved to its present location, and it operated for another 11 years, finally closing in 1947.
But even after all these years, it still has some remarkable treasures from the past, Doll said.
“It has the original floor, slate blackboard and lights,” she said.
But the process is far from complete. The historical preservation group raised enough money to build the foundation, but it still needs more for the move.
“That’s the biggest expense,” Doll said.
“It’s not like we need an astronomical amount, but what we need is critical.”
Once the relocation occurs, grants are available for restoring the edifice, but Doll said she knows of no grants that pay for the actual move.
“To do the restoration, you can get a Colorado Historical Society grant,” Doll said. “But to move it – it’s not sexy to move a school.”
She figures the nonprofit group has to raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $10,000 to complete the relocation of the 24-by-40-foot schoolhouse.
Time could be running out. The foundation is located right behind lot No. 79, a prime riverside lot in the Park East subdivision. Once a house is built there, access to the school’s new foundation will be cut off.
“It’s critical we start moving it this winter,” Doll said. “It’s money and timing.”
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