Volunteers repairing old schoolhouse near Burlingame

Carolyn Strohm, president of the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society, is coordinating efforts to repair years of damage to Superior School, a one-room schoolhouse two miles south of Burlingame. The school was built in 1894 and closed its doors in 1950. Photo by Jan Biles/The Capital-Journal.

 

 

By Jan Biles, The Capital-Journal

BURLINGAME – About two dozen volunteers have been working the past couple of years to repair and preserve a historic one-room schoolhouse two miles south of Burlingame.

Superior School, built in 1894 in the since-vanished Superior community, had been unlocked for several years. The windows had been broken. The exterior paint had chipped away, and the posts holding up the roof of the porch were so termite-ridden they had buckled.

“If we had not done anything last August, I’m convinced the porch would be on the ground,” said Carolyn Strohm, president of the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society Inc.

After Osage County was established by the territorial legislature in 1855, James M. Winchell surveyed and developed Superior, which was the first county seat of Osage County and a candidate for the capital of Kansas, losing by two votes to Topeka, according to information compiled by BHPS members.

The one-room schoolhouse that still stands wasn’t the first or only school to serve Superior. However, it was the last.

On Aug. 1, 1868, D.B. Burdick, the first sheriff of Osage County, deeded the school site to School District No. 2. Twenty-six years later, the school needed extensive repairs, and a bond election to build a new school passed. The new school opened in December 1894 and continued to hold classes until 1950.

The stage curtain that hung in the school from 1925 until its closing hangs in the Burlingame Schuyler Museum.

When Superior School closed, Strohm said, the building reverted to Dragoon Township and was used as a meeting place for 4-H clubs, a church and other organizations. When the township board indicated it was thinking of selling the old school a few years ago, the Burlingame Historical Preservation Society stepped in.

“We wrote up a contract and we have control of it as long as we can take care of it, and then it reverts back to the township,” she said.

The estimated cost of repairs is $15,000, Strohm said. Although BHPS had the amount in its savings, fundraising efforts have been ongoing and donations have brought in from $5,000 to $7,000 for the project.

So far, volunteers – working mainly on weekends – have repaired the floor and posts of the porch, replaced windows, repaired the structure’s foundation, tuck-pointed the chimney and painted the tin roof, the exterior of the school and the adjacent coal shed.

“We still need to replace the belfry and shingle the (porch) roof,” she said, adding no work has been done to the interior of building as yet.

Strohm said she is unsure how the building, which has water and electricity, will be used once repairs are finished.

Jan Biles can be reached at 785-295-1292 or [email protected]. Read Jan’s blog. Story and photo reprinted with permission. Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal.

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