By Cindy Hadish
Rae Jeanne Kilberger fondly remembers her days attending Stony Point School in Linn County, Iowa.
Kilberger attended the one-room school from the time she was 10, when her family moved to a nearby farm, until she graduated from eighth grade in the early 1950s.
“There were 23 of us,” she said of her schoolmates, with one teacher, Mary Cheadle, who taught first through eighth grades. “It was a load for her.”
Students were tasked with sweeping, dusting, stoking the fire that heated the school and carrying buckets of water from the Davis farm, who own the property where the school still sits near Highway 94 and Stoney Point Road. (The street has an “e” that the school did not have in its name.)
Warming up in the school after falling through the ice as she crossed a creek, all of her classmates drinking water out of the same dipper and carrying her lunch to school in a tin pail are among Kilberger’s vivid memories.
The building, which dates back to the 1870s, has deteriorated over the years, but her recollections of it have not, and soon the school will sit on property Kilberger owns on Ellis Road, where she will have it restored.
Ferneau & Sons House Moving & Raising of Marshalltown has been preparing the schoolhouse for its relocation just a mile or so away, with the move scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.
The 45,000-pound, 20-foot tall building was jacked up and rolled off its foundation earlier this week by Kevin Ferneau and his son, Matt, a sixth-generation house mover.
Windows have been broken and evidence of a long-ago fire remain in the building, which has been vandalized over the years after closing as a school in 1959.
In 2005, a restoration effort was underway at Stony Point School, but by 2014, that effort had ended due to a lack of funds, according to Iowa One Room Schools.
Kilberger, who went on to graduate from Roosevelt High School in Cedar Rapids after attending Stony Point, noted that she would be better able to repair and monitor the building on her own property.
She intends to fully restore the structure, including the bell tower, which has broken off over time, and has already purchased a replacement for the original bell.
Kilberger, who owns a fluorescent lighting business, will entirely self-fund the project.
She hopes to eventually open it to the public.
According to the Linn County comprehensive planning project by Leah Rogers, the first schools in Linn County were established in 1839 at Ivanhoe and Linn Grove. Early settler, George Greene, who later became a judge, settled in Linn County in the 1830s and taught at the Ivanhoe school. Greene Square in Cedar Rapids is named after Judge Greene.
The Linn County document notes that during the late 19th century, the town of Palo, located near Stony Point School, sported two hotels, two general stores, a meat market, a general merchandise store, a blacksmith and a drug/grocery store.
By 1907, Linn County had 184 schools, in addition to those in Cedar Rapids, Marion and Mount Vernon, according to the planning project, but by 1946, only 17 rural schools were still operating.
The once ubiquitous buildings are no longer commonplace, a fact not lost on Kilberger.
“I wanted to save it,” she said. “There aren’t that many one-room schools around anymore.”
Note: The roads surrounding the move will be closed the morning of Dec. 5, 2022. Kilberger said she welcomes spectators who wish to watch the move to park on her property in the 6300 block of Ellis Road, rural Palo.