During the 2016 Lincoln County Fair, a “Raise the Roof” fund raiser was kicked off with the goal of replacing the roof, soffits and fascia on the Brickyard School Museum. Thanks to a great many generous donors, the goal was met. This year’s fairgoers will see a school as handsome as it was in 1905 — the year of its construction in the Town of Pine River.
Over $1,000 was raised during the fair, and the remaining contributions were received in the months that followed. The last donation arrived in February, 2017. The Brickyard School Committee of the Merrill Historical Society then moved forward with the much-needed repairs to the one-room school.
McDonald Construction of Merrill was contracted to do the work. Removal of old shingles began in late April; new shingles, soffits and fasciae were then put in place, with all but finishing touches being completed by mid-May. It looks terrific!
A return to the school’s original appearance was ensured with the construction of a bell tower for the roof. The construction, also done by McDonald, was carefully made to resemble the original. Mr. McDonald donated all of the labor for the tower and its placement, along with placement of a new bell. The tower and bell had been removed when the school was transported from Pine River to the fairgrounds in 1961. The original bell is displayed inside the building for safekeeping, and a facsimile was constructed by the Elderhorst Bells Company of Palm, Penn.
Gary Schwartz of Merrill volunteered to fund the construction of the bell tower. His generosity provided the finishing touch to the exterior of the 112-year-old rural school.
When visitors come to admire the refurbishing of the exterior of the school, they are invited to step inside to view the new display prepared for this year’s Fair Open House. The theme for 2017 is “When First Graders Come to Brickyard.” The display describes, in photos and text, the program designed to allow area first graders to experience a half-day in a one-room rural school. From clanging the huge bell, to ciphering with slates, to unpacking lunch from an old lard pail, student visits will be chronicled.
A bit of history: The first grade visits began in the year 2000 in response to a request from Merrill first grade teachers. It was felt that the experience at an authentic one-room school would enhance their study of schools of long ago. A team of retired Merrill teachers designed the activities for the day.
Each year photographs are taken of the first grade visits. Photos are placed in albums, also on view at the fair, and a few from each year were chosen for this year’s display.
The display promises to be interesting for visitors becoming acquainted with the first grade program for the first time, as well as parents stopping in to find their child’s picture mounted on the wall of Brickyard School.
Dates for the 2017 Lincoln County Fair are July 26-30. Brickyard School Museum hours are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day of the fair.