Home » Uncategorized » Willows School, Westcliffe, CO

Willows School, Westcliffe, CO

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Historic Willows School

495 County Road 141

Westcliffe, CO   81252

Willows one-room country school, a wood frame rural schoolhouse located between Muddy Ln. and Schoolfield Ln., six-and-a-half-miles west of Westcliffe, CO, dates back to pioneer times. Constructed in 1889 for Custer County’s School District Number 15, it replaced the original outgrown log building erected in 1880. This school was a hub of activity serving its community both as a public school facility, and as a civic and social events center from 1880 until 1948 when it was declared surplus due to county school consolidation though it continues to function as a community center. Sewing and quilting bees, box socials, weekend dances, reunions, funeral wakes, political rallies -a polling precinct- were among the usual activities.  It is the only clapboard rural school yet standing in its original location in the county. In fact, all other country schools have been bulldozed, converted to private cottages, moved or left to crumble with age. Inside, old chipped chalkboards grace the pine-wood walls. Many of the original oak and cast iron two-seater desks line the perimeter. The wood stove still stands at the front of the classroom, its stovepipe removed from the brick chimney. On the front stoop parts of the old hand water pump remain.  The building gained listing on both the National and Colorado Registers of Historic Places on December 9, 1992. In 2001 a group of concerned neighborhood residents, all direct descendants of Willow District pioneer families, incorporated The Willows property. In 2004 a tax-exempt status was obtained. An impressive brass plaque commemorating the schools role in the educational, social and civic lives of the community is exhibited on the school’s front. In September, 2012 the Colorado State Historical Fund granted money designated toward the badly needed restoration of the building’s exterior. That restoration began in the summer of 2013. The siding has been refurbished or replaced and painted and the foundation restored. The windows and sign were removed and restored off-site. A wooden deck and stairs will replace the concrete steps and a handicap door and ramp are being installed on the west side of the building. All the electrical will be upgraded to meet code. The Society will continue to raise money through fundraising events, donations and matching grants until all phases of restoration, inside and outside – including rebuilding the old horse stables – are complete.

willows school



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