Group aims to save historic Sharon Center High School

By Dave Jackson
Posted 10/20/21

A new group of local residents has formed to save the historic Sharon Center High School. The old two-story, wood framed high school was built in 1899 and has served as the center of community …

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Group aims to save historic Sharon Center High School

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A new group of local residents has formed to save the historic Sharon Center High School. The old two-story, wood framed high school was built in 1899 and has served as the center of community functions in Sharon Center throughout its history.

At one time it was a place where all the Sharon township students went to high school, local organizations and large community functions were held, and elections and political speeches occurred. In recent years, the building has sat in disrepair. It was added to “Iowa’s Most Endangered Buildings” list in 2020.

The Friends of Historic Sharon High School and Community Center, Inc, is a 501(c)3, non-profit corporation with the vision of restoring the old high school to its original glory. The group is working with the Johnson County Historic Preservation Commission and others to create the site planning needed, with an eye on historic restoration efforts.

A State Historical Society Technical Advisory Network (TAN) site assessment was performed by John Bloom, preservation architect, of Schemmer Associates, Des Moines. Part of the plan includes a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The ultimate goal is to recreate the historic space where community functions and events can be held in a welcoming, open and educational atmosphere.

The most immediate need is to replace the crumbling foundation of the old school and meet accessibility requirements for a public building, and to create a master plan for restoration and other improvements.

The first formal meeting of the new group was held on October 7, 2021 at the school house. Officers were elected and committees appointed for the ensuing year. Directors include: Phil Winborn, Cheryne Yoder, Scott Ritter, Stephanie Leonard, Cathie Stutsman, Meg Nagel, Myron Smalley, Gene Miller, Roger Stutsman and Ron Stutsman.

The group is encouraging public input and community engagement with this large undertaking. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent of IRS code. In preparation for the National Registration nomination, historical documentation is necessary and the group is actively seeking any histories and old photographs of the building, school classes or events that took place at the school. Interested parties may contact Cheryne Yoder at 319-683-2314 or Phil Winborn at 319-930-8558 or send a note to Friends of Historic Sharon Center High School, 2765 500th St SW, Iowa City, Iowa 52240.

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