Anoka County history: One-room school has a rich history

by Brian Boldt

The Ramsey Town Hall, located in Ramsey sits on the north-west side of Highway 47 within the business district surrounding the Ramsey Towne Square mall complex.

Once used as a meeting place for council members of Ramsey Village from 1947-1977, the site was vacated due to a population increase that transformed the region into a city by 1974.
With the old brick building stating in large letters: Ramsey Town Hall, one would assume that it is an abandoned local government building.

This is not entirely true. It served such a purpose for up to 30 years, but the history goes well beyond local politics.

Rather, the building was built in 1894, serving as a one-room, brick school-house known as District 28, and remains a piece of early pioneer history in Ramsey’s community.

Efforts taken by a restoration committee formed by the Anoka County Historical Society produced an April 19, 1978 appraisal concluding that the school remained intact with minor renovations from its town hall years.

This structure was indeed the only one-room, brick school-house left in the entire Anoka County.

Because it was close to the original design, the information was submitted to the National Registration of Historic Places, a list that acknowledges historical sites nationally.

After careful inspection, on Feb. 11, 1980, the building was listed on the National Register, giving Ramsey high regard across the United States for holding a piece of history worth preserving.

This was an honor not given freely. Currently, it is one of four one-room brick school-houses in Minnesota listed.

Throughout decades since, there have been attempts toward preserving the building’s original school structure.

Money from grants of the Minnesota Historical Society, the North Star Federated Women’s Club, Landmark Bank, grass roots fund-raisers, and the city itself, were at one point involved in keeping this piece of history alive.

Unfortunately, there is more work to be done.

As it is, the funding seems limited in order to renovate, and as a result, the fate of the school house has been turned over to city politics.

Over the years, proposals by city council members have been to relocate the building and sell the real estate.

But if the school-house is moved, the site would no longer be recognized nationally by the National Register.

For now the story of District 28 is left to a research paper found at the Anoka County Historical Society’s library, “A New Approach to a School-House: District 28,” which is the result of sources pertaining to land and county records, newspaper articles, and interviews.

Until someone or some organization steps up to offer funds toward renovation, the reality of the school-house is it remains threatened with losing its historical value.

Editor’s note: Brian Boldt is a volunteer for the Anoka County Historical Society.

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