Old Webster School remembered: brick by brick
By Harriet Rice
After nearly a century, the old Webster School (OWS) is no more. Only the memories remain. And the bricks…which will be offered for sale as a sentimental reminder of “the good old days.”
Finding the history of the OWS is a challenge. A page-by-page search through 1919-1921 copies of the Burnett County Journal and Sentinel newspapers at the Grantsburg Library with help from local volunteer historian George Larson gave nary hint that a new high school was being built in Webster.
News reporting back then was quite different. The focus was on World War I, soldiers returning from the front, and local chit-chat about who was visiting whom from where, who held card parties, who was in the hospital, etc.
However, one sentence from a Webster Field Report in the May 27, 1921 issue gave a hint: “Several teams are at work excavating for the schoolhouse basement.” Might that have been the foundation for the Webster School??
An elementary school for grades 1-8, built in 1915, already stood across the street on the corner of Lakeland Ave (St.Rd.35) and County Road X (where the school billboards are).. Now both buildings are history
To preserve some of that history, the Village of Webster teamed up with Haas Construction, arranging to keep a supply of the original bricks used in construction. The faded red blocks are dirty, with remnants of 96-year-old mortar still attached. If only the bricks could talk…..well, maybe not!
“We’re selling the bricks as a community fund-raiser,” said Webster Village President Jeff Roberts.”The demonlition team brought over front-loader buckets of rubble. Our public works staff sorted the rubble, counted the bricks, and piled them on pallets.”
The funds raised will be shared by the Webster Education Foundation, the Larson Family Library, Northwest Passage Ltd (In a New Light Gallery), and the Burnett County Tourism Coalition.
People are buzzing about the brick sales, particularly on the Facebook page You know you’re from webster when/if, and are lining up to purchase their mementos. “We’ve been getting calls at the Village office asking about the sale and wanting to be on a list to purchase them,: said Roberts.
There will be a OWS brick sales booth at the annual Memorial Day Saturday (May 27) Webster Arts & Crafts Fair. “The bricks will sell for $10 each,” said Roberts. “The Webster School shop is producing small engraved plates that will be given away free with each purchase.”
Individuals wishing to purchase bricks may call Debra at the Village office. In order to ensure there are enough bricks for the sales, orders are limited to three bricks per person.
Those who signed up with the Village can pay for and pick up their bricks on Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to noon or at the Crafts Fair. To sign up, call 715.866.4211.