Seven year renovation of historic one-room schoolhouse nears completion

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BETTENDORF, Iowa-- A restoration project that's taken seven years and $200,000 is almost complete.

Sharon Andreson first noticed the Forest Grove one-room schoolhouse when she moved to Bettendorf years ago. She says she never would've imagined she'd take on a project bringing it back to its former glory.

"It's exciting," Andreson says. "Every time we uncover something new, we get very excited about it."

Andreson started a non-profit for the schoolhouse, raised money, got the building on the National Register of Historic Places and wrote grant applications.

At the property on Forest Grove Road in Bettendorf, hundreds of hours of work have gone into the schoolhouse, which was built in 1873.

"It was pretty crooked and pretty bad to start with," carpenter Ben Taylor says. "But you'd think you'd never be able to do it. But if you keep at it, eventually you get it."

The building had to raised and levels. A new roof was put on and a new steeple was constructed. Some of the windows and siding had to be replaced. And it was all done true to what the building looked like in 1923.

Andreson says that included paying extra for "wavy" glass in the windows and trying to recreate the original door while only having the hinges left.

"Each step completely changed it and started bringing it back to life," she says.

In just two weeks, former students and seniors will be brought in for the first tours. Then it'll be open to the public with a grand opening summer 2019. Andreson says there will be class reenactments so people can learn what education used to be like as well as videos of interviews with former students.

"It's a real historic treasure that we were able to save for the community," Andreson says. "This is just a giant gift to the community."

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