Old Harrisburg schoolhouse nominated for National Register of Historic Places

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | 4:48 p.m. CDT; updated 5:08 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 31, 2013

HARRISBURG — More than 75 years ago, elementary students and Freemasons studied in the same building. Now, that building is falling apart, but Harrisburg citizens are trying to change that.

An abandoned schoolhouse in the heart of Harrisburg, once used simultaneously as an elementary school and a Masonic lodge, has been nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Masons, a fraternal organization, built the schoolhouse in 1878 in cooperation with the school district, now known as the Harrisburg R-VIII School District. At the time, the two-story building's first floor was used as a classroom, while the second floor was used for the Masonic lodge, according to the nominating documents.

The Masons vacated their space in 2010 due to the deterioration of the building. They hope to move back if the condition of the building improves, according to the documents.

Citizens of Harrisburg have expressed interest in restoring the building for communal use, the documents stated. Many residents attended school there before classes were moved to a new high school down the road in 1937. 

"Lots of people have been in the building and used it for a variety of things," Steven Miller, co-author of the nominating documents, said.

The school is one of the few one-room schoolhouses left in Missouri. In its heyday, it was the only elementary school in Harrisburg and was the center of children's and their family's lives, according to the documents.

If recognized by the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as a historic place, the schoolhouse could be restored and put to use by the community again. 

Thecouncil will meet to discuss the Harrisburg schoolhouse and 10 other nominations Aug. 9 in Jefferson City. The open meeting will be in the LaCharrette Conference Room of the Lewis and Clark State Office Building.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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