Eagle Bend SchoolThe Eagle Bend School, November 2020
In December 1939 the Eagle Bend School burned down, causing $110,000 in damage and destroying a gymnasium constructed by the Public Works Administration in 1934. While deliberating on new construction on January 31, 1940, the members of the Eagle Bend School Board applied for $52,000 of Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) funding to complete the rebuilding of the school. Blueprints were drawn by architect, E.F. Broomhall from Duluth, MN., and A.C. Dunn was the W.P.A. area engineer.
The project employed a variety of local laborers and businesses to supplement W.P.A. labor. Carpenters Gust Berggren and Olof Edmonds received an additional 50-cent per day stipend from the school board on days they did not work for the W.P.A. The Eagle Bend School Board Log Book shows the board contracted L Pancratz Company of Little Falls for the construction of the roof, while the Northwest Sash and Door Company of Fergus Falls completed the glass and mill work and also received help from W.P.A. laborers to unload their trucks and glaze the windows. The Cold Spring Granite Company furnished local granite to trim the school’s front entrance, while the Sani Stone Company of Duluth installed the terrazzo stairs and flooring. A W.G. Chihos served as the electrical installation foreman, and the Hustad Company of Minneapolis furnished the roof. The Knapp Plumbing and Heating Company installed the water system, Lowell Swanson finished the floors, W.E. Neal Slate Company installed the blackboards.
The three-level structure is mostly constructed from cement, which was wheelbarrowed up ramps to get to the upper level, trimmed by granite from central Minnesota quarries, and with full-width windows in each classroom. Stonemason Ernest Budahn worked on the chimney for the new school, and his son Bob recalled how the workers would bring mortar to Ernest, which was carried in a trough on one shoulder. One end of the trough had a spout so that the mortar could be dumped onto the mason’s board, and the end had a handle for steadying the load. Materials were frequently carried or pulled to the site by hand, but horses were also used to pull dump planks that were fourteen feet long and loaded with dirt to be used at the site. One worker later recounted how construction was halted one day when a horse was badly wounded by a flying rock on the construction site.
The new school was officially opened June 1, 1942, and an auditorium and gymnasium were added in 1952. Local historian Carol Becker attended the Eagle Bend School from 1945 to 1958 and recalled that because there was no elevator, two boys from the football team would pick up a young lady who was confined to a wheelchair and take her to where she needed to go when she had to navigate the stairs. The school served students from kindergarten through 12 grade until it combined with the Clarissa school in 1995, when it became Eagle Valley High School, serving 7th through 12th grade. It remained in operation until 2017, but still stands today while its future is up for debate. The cafeteria and kitchen are now home to Hilltop Regional Kitchen, which makes meals for the surrounding community, while local development officials have considered a housing project for the reconstruction of this building.
“Eagle Bend Just Can’t Keep a School House.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Friday, February 27, 1942. 1.
Eagle Bend School Board Log Book (Eagle Bend School Ledger), from 1931-1950, pp.74-74, 101-104, 118-123. The Eagle Bend Historical Museum, Eagle Bend, MN.
Emerson, M., Kennedy, K., Linne, R., Nelson, M., Dela Victoria, W. “2020 Search For Shelter Design Charrette.” Eagle Bend Economic Development Incorporation. AIA Minnesota. February 8, 2020. https://www.aia-mn.org/wp-content/uploads/EBEDC-HS-combined-boards.pdf
Interview with Bob Budahn, Hewitt, MN. Interviewer Reta Dahlen. August 26, 1995. 1. Provided by Todd County Historical Society.
Interview with George Weibye, Eagle Bend, MN. Interviewer Reta Dahlen. August 26, 1995. 1. Provided by Todd County Historical Society.
“School Burns at Eagle Bend”. St. Cloud Times. December 29, 1939. 1.
“Historical Sites.” History of Todd County. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://www.co.todd.mn.us/government/overview/history/?print=print
Roers, Michael G. Eagle Bend......Almost Abbottsville. Wadena, Minnesota: Printed by the Print Shop, 1983. 107-08.
"School at Eagle Bend. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration." c. 1942. Photograph Collection, Negative No. 103781, Minnesota Historical Society. Accessed at http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/largerimage?irn=10079174&catirn=10683929&return=.
Project originally submitted by Addy McCoy on December 24, 2020.
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