In the spring of 1938, Reading Township School Subdistrict #2 requested bids for construction of a new schoolhouse. The new school was constructed that summer (probably by the firm of Ben Poll and Lane Verduin). It was located on Reading Township section 10 — the southeast corner of what is now Fig Avenue and 460th Street and replaced an older style school.
The new school was ready for use in the fall of 1938 and the first teacher was Bernice Van Wyhe (later Mrs. Lorenz Janssen). Like most Sioux County schools built after 1924, the school was in a square style intended to maximize points under the “Iowa Standard School” law. Sioux County Superintendent of Schools Charles Tye wanted new schools in a “cottage style” and worked with a Sioux City architect to create the design. The new Reading #2 was dedicated on the evening of November 25, 1938 with a varied program including a one-act play by district patrons, performances by school children, a dedication speech by Supt. Tye and readings by Mrs. Tye. It was the pride of the surrounding rural community.
Classes were conducted in the school until the spring of 1954. After that, students in subdistrict #2 attended school in Ireton.
On August 28, 1955, the school was sold at public auction to the Virginia Township school board of Union County, South Dakota for $1900. It was moved to a location about 3 miles northwest of Hawarden where it became the “Edwards School”. In 1969, the district was absorbed into the Greater Scott School District and the school became known as the “Greater Scott” school. It was closed in 1976 and Greater Scott students enrolled at West Sioux in Hawarden. The building was sold to Richard Dunn of Hawarden for $400.
In the spring of 1992, the Ireton Area Historical Society purchased the school for $600 from Mr. Dunn. In July, a foundation for the building was constructed just south of the Historical House at 301 Ash Street in Ireton. On Monday, September 28, 1992, the schoolhouse was moved from South Dakota to its new home in Ireton, arriving at the Historical House about 4 p.m. It was placed on its new foundation the next day. The building was extensively repaired and refurbished in 1992-1993. Total cost of the schoolhouse project was about $11,000.
The school was opened to the public for the first time during “Ag Days” in August, 1993. The following month, under the leadership of schoolhouse project chairman Russ Marshall, a group of volunteers installed authentic (but new) wooden shingles on the schoolhouse. Click to view a slideshow of photos showing schoolhouse being moved and shingled.
The school was renamed “Kemper School” and dedicated to the memory of the late Floyd E. (“Bud”) Kemper on April 1, 1995. Bud was a founding member of the Ireton Area Historical Society and the primary benefactor of the project.
Since opening in 1993, the little schoolhouse has provided many school groups with a glimpse at life in a “one room school”. Kemper School has also been open to the public and to private groups.
The school is furnished in a manner appropriate to country schools of the 1940’s and 50’s with penmanship charts, wooden desks, recitation benches, blackboards, photos of portraits of Presidents Washington and Lincoln and more. Kemper School brings back memories of school in simpler days when younger students learned from older ones, there was an emphasis on “readin’, ‘riting & ‘rithmetic” and the one-room school was the heart of its rural community.
301 Ash Street
Ireton, Iowa 51027
Open in connection with Publicly Scheduled Events (Check the homepage, the sign on Main Street and newspaper ads)
To Make An Appointment:
Call: Shirley: 712-278-2203