More than 50 years after it closed to make way for the county's first consolidated school, a one-room schoolhouse in the town of Troy has been restored to what it would have looked like in the days when students grades one through eight all learned together in the same small classroom.
The century-old Harrisburg-Troy school was one of nine one-room schoolhouses serving the Troy area, named "Harrisburg" for a township which never quite came to be. And it will soon be open to the public, after years of restoration and renovation work, beginning with a grand opening July 4.
The school was first built in 1856, then rebuilt in 1896 in the same space. The school was one of nine serving the Troy area, all of which eventually closed and fed into the Blackhawk consolidated school, the first in Sauk County.
Former student Morey Moseman, who attended the Harrisburg school until it closed in 1955, still remembers his days there, the games the students played at recess, and the stories he read for his lessons. At that time, he said, there were only about a dozen students, of all ages.
"I always kid people that I was the smartest one in my class," he said. "I was the only one in my class."
Because everyone had class all at once, grades one through eight, he said he learned better by hearing the older students do their lessons.
"You were actually tutored in some ways," he said. "Even though there was a big age difference, there was a lot of closeness in the kids."
Moseman, a Sauk City resident now, was one of the driving forces behind the renovation project, following a conversation with two other Harrisburg alums in 2001. He said it was a slow process, soliciting donations which came in small doses, and pouring some of his own money into repairing the building, which was used to hold grain and farm equipment after the school was given to the adjacent Sprecher farm following its closing.
"We probably spent more money than I thought we would, but that's OK," Moseman said. "Why penalize it by not doing certain things?"
The effort led, also, to the development of the Harrisburg-Troy Historical Society, which intends to gather more of the town's artifacts and history in the school's basement for now.
The society has been busy redecorating the old schoolhouse with donated memorabilia from the time period, including an antique piano, and a 48-star American flag. Moseman just this week finished the touches on an outhouse which, he said, is a replica of the original from his days in the school.
The school was also fitted with its original bell last summer, donated by a former teacher who had it on her property, and more than 30 original folding chairs from the school were recovered from Sauk Prairie High School. The group has also recovered most of the original registers from the Harrisburg school, and the other Troy schoolhouses.
Society president Carol Anderson said the 60-member society was about halfway to its goal of becoming independent from the Sauk County Historical Society, which facilitated the original acquisition of the schoolhouse.
Anderson, herself a graduate of a one-room schoolhouse, said she hoped the school, which will be open two Sundays a month all summer and hopefully host school groups in the fall, would be a learning opportunity for visitors who did not understand how the school system used to work.
"The school was the heart of the community," said society secretary Frances Biesek, who herself attended a one-room schoolhouse near Leland. "We've all lived it."
"After those many years, the weird thing about going into the school again was, ‘My God I used to think this was so big,' " Moseman said.
"What you see is exactly the way it was," he said. "I hope that down the road a lot of people will enjoy it."
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