- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) - Looking at the southeast corner of Bettendorf’s historic Forest Grove School, you might think that restoration of the once-crumbling structure is finally done.

Looking at the northwest corner, you might think the group behind the effort has barely started.

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” Sharon Andresen, the sparkplug who got rescue efforts rolling in early 2012, says with a chuckle.

But this fall, for the first time since work began, the 1873 school is going into winter totally buttoned up against the elements, with a replacement front door and all eight replacement windows installed over the summer. A cedar shake roof and furnace for climate control were installed in 2014.

And much of the building, including the distinctive arched sign with the words “Forest Grove,” is painted in its historic colors of white, gray and charcoal, a combination that makes the building “pop.”

The sides that are finished - the front, the east side and half of the back - are those where the original wood was so deteriorated that it had to be replaced. Still awaiting paint are half of the back and the entire west side, where members of Forest Grove School Preservation hope to save most of the original wood.

The Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/1N4mE02 ) reports that another job accomplished over summer was the building of a chimney on the back by Eric Gisie of New Boston, Ill. The chimney won’t be functional - the building’s new furnace is vented via PVC pipes - but constructing it was part of returning the building to its 1920s appearance. The bricks called “Hannibal Red” were purchased at a Cedar Rapids salvage business.

In funding efforts, Andresen hopes to complete by the end of this year all the paperwork needed for the awarding of about $20,000 in state historic tax credits.

A primary job over the winter will be to build the components of a bell tower so that it can be constructed atop the school in spring. Hand-in-hand with that will be the construction of a support system inside the building to support the weight of the tower and the original bell, which will be returned from storage.

And then? Andresen takes a breath, then ticks off other jobs that need to be done: rebuilding the floor (most of the original wood is deteriorated beyond use so likely will be replaced with salvaged pine) and installing an electrical system, insulation and drywall. Stone facing needs to be applied to the new concrete block foundation, and the site needs to be graded.

About $100,000 has been spent so far in cash and in-kind donations and about again as much will be needed to finish, Andresen said. Money has been raised through direct appeals, car washes, trivia nights, grants and Birdies for Charity, the community fundraising program of the John Deere Classic golf tournament.

The school closed and has been vacant since 1957. The Forest Grove School Preservation group hopes to use it as a museum.

“It’s coming,” Andresen said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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