Saving the old elementary school in St. Ansgar


ST. ANSGAR, Iowa – On a Sunday inside First Lutheran Parish in St.  Ansgar, people are praying — but this isn’t a church service.

This is a meeting meant to save a historic school building.

Community organizer Ashley Damaris started investigating grant funding possibilities about a year ago after finding out the old elementary school could be torn down once the new school was ready for students.

“People were really receptive to the idea of keeping the building and preserving it if it was going to be feasible, if it was going to be cost-effective and we can find a good purpose for it,” says Demaris.

And it’s folks like Jessie Carter who are fighting to save the building.

For her, it’s personal.

“My family, my mom went to school there and I went to school in this building and it’s in amazing shape,” says Carter.

But Ashley says it’s going to take a lot of hard work and money.

“The baseline finances for the building to keep it up and functioning for a year is about $24,000, so as a community if you want to keep it we have to come up with the money to at least sponsor the basic overhead costs of the building.”

As for Jessie, she says with the help of social media it has made it easier to get the information out to help them with the process.

“Having the Facebook live feed it helps people who can’t be here if you are in other places and then they can get just the facts you know.”

St. Ansgar currently does not have a community center, which the neighbors hope to use the old school for.

Ashley says she will remain hopeful that people can come together to help find an answer to their prayers.

“Even in a small town, people come together — they can do great things, a lot of it is just communication.”

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