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Spring City School

This Victorian Eclectic public school, noted for its fine brick work, was built in 1899. It was designed by noted architect Richard C. Watkins of Provo, who also designed the Spring City Meetinghouse and numerous other school buildings in Utah. The builder was Grace Brothers of Nephi. The building is laid out on an “H” plan and had 4 classrooms on each of the 2 floors. Last used as a school in 1957, citizens of the area worked from 1979 to 2017 to renovate this landmark building for the community.
(text from the plaque on the building)

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The school is now the city building and is located at 45 South 100 East in Spring City, Utah. It was added to the National Historic Register (#78002691) on November 14, 1978.

Until 1899 classes were held in various locations scattered throughout Spring City. In that year a public school was completed at the cost of $10,200. Half the amount was financed with a bond and the rest was financed by local citizens including Rasmus Justesen who mortgaged his sheep herd. The architect was R.C. Watkins. General contractor was Grace Brothers of Nephi, employing local labor. Brick and adobe was made in town and stone was quarried nearby.

The building was in use until 1957. In 1977 the North Sanpete School District determined that the school be demolished, but the two local Camps of Daughters of Utah Pioneers negotiated the purchase of the building for one dollar, securing its future. Historic home tours were an early means of fund-raising to keep the structure intact.

By 1987 there were enough concerns over liability that the deed was transferred to the City. Friends of Historic Spring City, a non profit organization, was formed in 1988 to develop a plan with the specific condition that no city funds would be available. Jack Brady was selected as restoration architect.

Heritage Day events, art sales, as well as donations from individuals and foundations allowed the project to proceed. A large grant and loan was secured through Spring City Corp. from the Community Impact Fund Board with The Friends of Historic Spring City being solely responsible for repayment.

Paulsen Construction, with many local tradesmen, completed the restoration in May 2017.

The Friends of Historic Spring City presented the completed building as a gift to the City and citizens as City Hall and Community Center.
(text from sanpete.com)

The Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum is also located inside the old school.

The following text is from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form in 1978:

The Spring City School, built following the transition from church-supported to public education, is one of the outstanding architectural examples of public school architecture in Utah. It is one of only three public buildings in Spring City (the others are the small City Hall, built as a school in 1893 and converted to city offices in 1900; and the imposing Spring City Tabernacle, also designed by Richard C. Watkins, architect of the 1899 school).

The 1899 school was the fourth school to be used in Spring City. A brickyard was opened in the 1880s and was still in operation and was the source for brick when the school was built. The school was built on a roughly H-shaped plan, with halls on both floors at the crossing of the H and two classrooms on each side of the H on each floor, providing one classroom for each grade.

In the fall of 1916, a new junior high school for grades seven through nine was opened behind the old school; the classroom on the northwest corner of the second floor became a library. In about 1946, following years of declining school population, the elementary grades were combined under three teachers. The library became a kitchen, and the adjacent classroom became the lunchroom. The two south rooms on the second floor were made into a stage and auditorium. Before that time school plays and activities had been held in the L.D.S. social hall (a brick building across Main Street from the L.D.S. ward house). In addition to school functions, the new auditorium was used for town meetings, dancing and educational films for the community.

A district consolidation relocated the junior high grades in Moroni in 1956, and remodeling began on the junior high building in Spring City. When that work was completed in 1959, the old brick school was closed and the elementary grades were moved into the remodeled junior high school and the old brick school was closed. During the 1960s the building was used for several years as a camper manufacturing plant, and for a time the Utah sculptor Avard Fairbanks stored some of his work there, In 1977 the local camps of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers persuaded the school board to transfer title to the building only (but not the surrounding property) to them for use as a museum.

Richard C. Watkins (1869-1941), architect of the Spring City School, was born in Bristol, England, and immigrated to Utah in 1869. Prom about 1890 to 1892 he worked as a draftsman for Richard K. A. Kletting, Utah’s most important architect for more than a generation. In 1892 Watkins began his own firm, and in association with various other architects during the next three decades was perhaps the most prolific architect in central Utah, His firm office designed about 240 schools and about 140 other buildings. In 1911 he was appointed architect for state schools. Watkins was most probably the architect for the Spring City L.D.S. Tabernacle.

!. In March, 1852, at the suggestion of Brigham Young, James Allred and several other Mormon families began settling along Canal Creek in Sanpete County in what is now the southwest part of Spring City. The following July, the Walker War with Chief Walker and the Sanpitch Indians began, and settlers at Pleasant Creek fled north to join the Allred settlement. A fort was finished in July 1853, but after continued problems with the Indians, the fort was abandoned and the townspeople moved to Manti. Although an attempt was made to resettle Spring City in the fall of 1853, it was vacated again in December. Settlers did not return until 1859.

A substantial number of Danish immigrants came to Spring City beginning in 1859. Most of the Danish settlers were tradesmen, and did not develop large livestock or produce farms. Three Danish stonemasons, Jens J. Sorensen, John Peter Carlson, and John Bohlin, were among the most important builders in the community. They helped build the ward chapel and many of the stone houses, and did much of the stone work on the Manti Temple. A one-room adobe meeting house was built soon after they arrived in Spring City, where Danish services were held until after the turn of the century. Much of the history of the town reflects the cultural influence of the large Danish population.

Spring City’s population reached a high of 1,235 in 1900, but the decline of agriculture in Sanpete County contributed to an out-migration beginning in the Twenties. Recent coal and energy developments in Emery County (east of Sanpete County) have brought some new residential construction to the town, which as ~ late as the fifties was largely unchanged from its turn of the century appearance.

Completed in 1899, the appearance of the school is largely unchanged. Deterioration has occurred around the door and window openings, but the major damage to the building is cracked or collapsed ceilings and window breakage.

The two-and-a-half story brick building is rectangular with a hipped roof. Stepped gables on the side facades balance the stepped parapet of the front façade. The Boost prominent architectural elements are the pattern brick details around the door and window openings and at the cornices. The roof for the projecting, round arch entrance canopy with recessed doors makes a second floor balcony, with the door to the balcony also recessed behind a segmental brick arch. Round arch windows in the stepped parapet break the eave line on either side of the entrance bay. The roof is capped by a small bell tower, framed by two corbelled and patterned brick chimneys.