Playing the Long Game in Spring City, Utah
For the residents of Spring City, Utah, the rehabilitation of an 1899 schoolhouse brought an acute lesson in the virtue of patience. For a town of about 1,000 residents, restoring a public building to the tune of almost $2 million is no easy feat. But when the brick Romanesque-style building reopened in May as the town’s community center, the value of 40 years of preservation efforts was impossible to quantify.
The biggest takeaway for Alison Anderson, president of Friends of Historic Spring City: “You can get a lot done when nobody cares who gets the credit.”
The eight-classroom schoolhouse closed in 1957. It served as storage space before the Daughters of Utah Pioneers bought it for $1 to save it from demolition. An annual fundraising event launched in 1981, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the town itself secured a loan and grant for the restoration.
The list of required fixes was extensive. The building needed its woodwork, wainscoting, and staircase restored and rebuilt, as well as new drywall, heating, mechanical, and electrical. After the work was completed, its pioneer-era aesthetic remained intact.“I can’t tell you enough how much respect I have gained for the original builders of our town,” Anderson says. “It’s just beautiful.”