History Comes Alive at The Star School in Bent County

Readying the KeyStone for Placement Above the Front Door

One of the major restoration tasks to the Star School on U.S. Highway 50 was highlighted this past Wednesday, October 31, when a replacement stone was added to the front wall of the historic building.

Pat Palmer with John Marrin, LCC President at School Site

Pat Palmer, local southeast Colorado history buff, has been working to preserve and restore the one room school which dates back to 1898. Over the past few years, since 2006, Palmer, Dr. John Abbott and others, set their goal of having the former school serve as a tourism information site for southeast Colorado historical highlights and Watchable Wildlife. The land was purchased for $1 from Mr. Stanley Cline and family with the provision that efforts would continue to promote historical tourism in this part of the state. Funds have been raised through the efforts of the Colorado Historical Society, the Marc Diamond Architectural firm and Tri County Housing. $8,000 has now been raised, but $15,000 will be required for matching funds for future renovations.

Dr. John Abbott Details Historical Points of Interest

The most visible efforts included boarding the windows and doors which had been open to the elements for numerous years. New support beams for the roof were installed, a new roof of cedar shingles replaced the old one, support braces were constructed to keep the roof attached to the walls and extensive rock masonry repairs were needed. As Palmer related to the gathering on Wednesday, “The most difficult part of the task was the earliest one, shoveling out about two feet and thirty years of accumulated pigeon poop!” Palmer said anyone involved in the task had to wear protective gear and face masks against potential infection. 

Improved Ceiling Supports with Old Blackboard at Far Wall

For many years, the signature piece of the building had been missing, a carved, solid stone engraved with the date of the school’s construction, 1899 and CS-NO11 which, according to Palmer, meant the eleventh county school in the Bent County District. The District was called Star. Dr. Abbott laid to rest any urban mythology about demon affiliation because of the position of the star on the stone. He explained that the inverted five-sided star had no relationship to demon-like activities, but was an emblem of the Order of the Eastern Star, signifying their allegiance to the Masons. 

Replica of the Keystone Being Mortared Above Front Door

As the gathering watched the heavy stone replica being mortared into place, Palmer recounted the origins of the school which required that ten children of school age had to live within the boundaries of the newly formed district and residents had to pay for at least four months of education themselves. The sale of local crops helped reach the $40 per month fee for Miss Fanny Brown who taught students in her home while the school was being built. The Star School went out of service when it was consolidated with McClave in 1952.

More information on the history of the school and its future uses and restoration is available by contacting Pat Palmer at 719-931-4323 or at gpatpalmer@hotmail.com.

By Russ Baldwin

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