The Manito Historical Society seeks the authentic preservation of an 1800’s school and local jail. The original portion of the “Old School” was built in 1858 creating a 20ft x 30ft building used as a one room school and a church. Not long after being constructed an addition was made doubling the building in size and creating a 2 room school building. The building served as a center of education until 1879 when the new Manito School building was constructed on Adams Street. The 1879 building is also still standing and serves as the Manito Masonic Hall. Once the 1879 school was complete the original building was sold and served as a private dwelling place until 1976. During the time of private ownership, about 2/3rds of the original building was demolished. Today’s building consists of the entire 1861 addition and 10 feet of the original 1858 building. Purchased by Peoples State Bank, the building was later donated to the Manito Historical Society on the condition that it be restored. Using salvaged materials from an old house, the building was restored as near as original as possible. The material used for the repairs at the time of the restoration was already 100 years old and 25 years after the restoration had become worn out and in dire need of replacement. Doing a second complete “historical restoration” with original materials was decided to be cost prohibitive, time consuming and had the potential for considerably more annual maintenance so modern materials with the “look of the period” were used. The admission is free but by appointment only.
Unfortunately, the Historic Old School was damaged by what has been called an act of vandalism. The end caps on the corners of the building were pushed outward damaging the siding it had been nailed to. Scuff marks in an upward arc seem to indicate someone had kicked the siding causing the cap to pop loose and pulling the nails out of the siding which tore loose the red colored layer of the siding. The east side end caps were also pushed away from the building in opposite directions lessening the chance it occurred by a pass of the mower. After repairs, the Manito Historical Society is proud of the results and feel that the building is much better prepared to withstand the rigors of time and remain a place to learn of Manito’s History for many years to come. In keeping with their long term goals of preservation of our local museums, the Manito Historical Society replaced the roof on the old Red School House located behind Manito Community Bank. After being unsuccessful in receiving a local bid, they contracted Kelley Construction of Pekin for the roof replacement. There are other smaller jobs to be done to get the buildings in good repair. For more information, contact the Manito Historical Society, PO Box 304, Manito, IL, 61546; Phone: 309-968-6985.