HISTORY: Old high school not easily forgotten
November 12. 2013 2:22PM
June 30, 1985 was day of memories. Pleasant memories of old school days, friends passing in the halls, homecoming, past teachers, tests and a proud accomplishment of knowing the history of the “Old High School” will not be forgotten.
In 1885, 100 years prior, a sturdy two-story building was erected. Quartzite blocks from the local quarry were cut by hand master stone cutters from Norway. High School classes were added in 1886, and the first high school graduating class, of five students, was in 1890.
While the $10,000 bond issue for the building of a new school was originally defeated, it eventually passed and construction began in 1905. A large addition was built on the front of the then 10-year-old structure.
In December of 1970, school staff and students boxed up their books and the school’s possessions and moved into the new school. The old high school, no longer needed, was boarded up.
In 1982, the 97-year-old building was razed to make room for the next phase of school expansion.
Fortunately a group of forward thinking residents determined to preserve the memories, the history, of the old high school erected a monument and plaque, “Dedicated to all alumni of the Dell Rapids Public School.”
I wasn’t there nor did I attend school here, but I know this because of the existing monument that still stands on the south side of what we now call the old elementary building.
I have also learned from the monument that it was a prominent architect, Wallace Dow, who designed the building. It was built of Red Quartzite from the Dell Rapids Quarries by Master Stone Cutters Ole, Engebrit, Gunder and Chris Paulson. The blocks were quarried, cut by hand, numbered and lettered in the quarry during the winter, then hauled by a team of black horses to the site.
The building is gone now, but with the creation of the monument the knowledge of knowing it was there can not be forgotten or erased.
With the addition of a new elementary school building on 15th Street, the future for the old elementary school site, the “Old High School” monument, and the civil war monument, still remains unclear.
A number called “Memories” was sang during the dedication of the old high school monument:
We’re thinking of our past
O’er the sea of memory
We’re back again at last
Our school days, good school days
Those at Old Dells High-
The building is gone-
Bur our memories live on-
Yes, our memories of Old Dells High.