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Saving the Valley School, built in 1852 in south Washington County

Mavis Voigt
13728 Saint Croix Trail South, Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Hastings, MN 55033, USA

The Valley School District 34 was built in 1852 in what was the lumbering town of Point Douglas, at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers in south Washington County, Minnesota.

In January 2012 a small 501(c)3 organization called the Denmark Township Historical Society, signed a contract to save the school. The price was $80,000, and that amount has been raised by volunteers and generous donors, making it possible to close on the purchase May 1, 2013. DTHS will restore the school and make it a rich resource for the community once again. We will have classes for children and activities and programs for the public.

We are in process of nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places, for which we received a $4,800 Legacy grant, and a historic structures report, for which we received a $3,000 Sweatt Fund grant. We look forward to the next stage, restoring the historic school, a remnant of Point Douglas, now a ghost town.

Built in 1852, Valley School District #34 was much more than a school—it was a center of family activities such as box suppers, community meetings and school programs.  After the one-room school closed in 1946, its new owners, the Point Douglas Woman’s Club, continued holding card parties, luncheons and meetings there until 1972, when they sold it to a family.

Today, 160 years after it was built, the Valley School, still stands on its original site at 13728 St. Croix Trail South in south Washington County, a survivor in what was once the thriving lumbering village of Point Douglas.  Located at the confluence of the Saint Croix and Mississippi Rivers—the only means of transportation in early years—Point Douglas was called the “Gateway to Minnesota.” By the beginning of the 20th century, it had become a ghost town.

In January 2012 the Denmark Township Historical Society, a 501(c)3 organization, bought the schoolhouse and land, with plans to restore it so it can once more  be a rich resource for the community.  Members envision a time when the restored schoolhouse will host schoolchildren learning about pioneer education, people attending programs and activities hosted by the Society, and visitors to the Lower St. Croix Valley wanting information about the area.

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