The city is completing renovations on Glover Schoolhouse, which will be used as a rentable community space at DeSanctis Park. Photo courtesy of City of River Falls
Area News


Glover Schoolhouse gets a revival

RIVER FALLS – The city’s list of park facilities is get- ting some vintage flair. In Summer 2022, the historic Glov er Schoolhouse, located at DeSanctis Park, will become the newest ouering available for community members to reserve for events and gatherings.

Built in 1920, Glover Schoolhouse originally sat at the corner of Glover Road and Highway 35 in the town of Troy. The one-room building served students in grades one through eight to learn reading, writing and arithmetic until 1962, when it was converted into Troy Town Hall. In 2003, the town of Troy vacated the building and the city purchased the schoolhouse, seeing its potential as a community space with historic character.

After the purchase, the River Falls City Council authorized moving Glover Schoolhouse to DeSanctis Park. While the bones of the structure were in surprisingly good shape, significant work needed to be done to make the building a functional community facility.

In 2006, Frisbie Architects completed a design for the building renovation, including an interior restroom, which it lacked. That spring, the Residential Construction class from Chippewa Valley Technical College constructed a deck and ramp on the back side of the building. 2007 and 2008 saw a flurry of work accomplished, with new electrical service and interior wiring installed, a new HVAC system, walls and ceiling insulated, and drywall installed, finished and painted. From 2008 to 2020, the building largely sat vacant. During this time, local grade school teacher and former Historic Preservation Commission member Jeanne Zirbel provided funds for finishing ou the entryway and exterior railings. Even with these strides, the problem remained that the building had no running water.

Things changed when Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions purchased a city-owned parcel at the edge of DeSanctis Park for the construction of a multi-family residential development, now known as Milltown Residences, in 2020. The scope of the project included extending water lines out to the schoolhouse. With water and sewer “a go,” the city got to work finishing up renovations to ready the building for use. The facility includes a main room where tables and chairs can be set up, a restroom with a large, farmhouse-style sink and drainboard, and a back deck with picnic tables. There is a large yard adjacent to the schoolhouse, and the park itself includes walking and biking trails, a playground, and parking.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has been integral to ensuring the history of the schoolhouse is preserved even as it’s converted into a functional space. While most of the antique desks have been relocated to make room for tables and chairs, one desk will remain as an homage to the building’s past. The blackboard that originally hung on the wall, and the schoolhouse bell, are also there to stay.

The HPC is currently working with the city’s Parks and Recreation department to develop additional elements of décor that will further transport visitors back to the early and mid-20th century. Ideas include staging old lessons on the chalkboard and adorning the walls with photos of the presidents of the time, from Wilson to Kennedy. HPC members also plan to display historic photographs of the schoolhouse through the years, helping visitors feel the living history.

“Sitting here in DeSanctis for years, the schoolhouse really didn’t attract a whole lot of attention,” said Public Works Director Mike Stifter. “Now, to see it coming alive is really fun. I can see it being a great setting for events like birthday parties, graduations, or family reunions. You have the space itself, which has water, electricity, tables and chairs, and beautiful deck. You have the natural beauty that DeSanctis Park ouers. And then you also get a unique dose of history." “Last summer I actually had grandparents give me a call about the schoolhouse,” said Parks & Recreation Director Cindi Danke. “They wanted to bring their grandkids there to show them what it was like to go to school in there. I told them I would meet them outside the schoolhouse to open it. I’m standing there, and I’m thinking, where are they? And then all of a sudden from down the trail, there they come walking in their costumes – the kids even had little bonnets on. When they arrived, I said ‘Oh, I should have told you we had parking.’ And they went, ‘Oh no, we had to walk to school, so we made them walk too.’ I think we’ll see that same enthusiasm and excitement from a lot of other people once the space is open to the public.”

Glover Schoolhouse is expected to be completed later this summer. Follow the City of River Falls Facebook page for updates.

Submitted by City of River Falls

The main room will be outfitted with tables and chairs forevents, but will retain its original character by featuring the original chalkboard and an original student desk. Photo courtesy of City of River Falls

The city has retained the original bell that hung outside Glover Schoolhouse. Photo courtesy of City of River Falls

May 24, 2022