Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Thornton School
Thornton, Grimes Township, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

School History

The Thornton school building was built in 1936 after the previous school burned in a large fire. In 1955, a large addition, including a gymnasium, library, offices, and additional classrooms was added. In 1963, the building became the high school, and later the Jr.-Sr. High, for the combined Meservey-Thornton school district. Due to declining enrollments, in 1983 the Meservey building was closed and the Thornton facility was again used for grades K-12.

In 1988, Meservey-Thornton began whole-grade sharing with Sheffield-Chapin school district, and the building was used as an elementary and middle-school.

The Meservey-Thornton mascot was the "Lancers". When the high school classes moved to Sheffield in 1988, the Lancer mascot was retained for the middle-school sports teams. However, with the S-C and M-T districts formally merging in 2007, the Lancer mascot was officially retired with a parade in July, 2007.

Due to declining enrollment, the former S-C, M-T, and neighboring Rockwell-Swaledale school districts entered a whole-grade sharing agreement to become the West Fork school district in 2008, with the "Warhawks" as the new mascott.

The Thornton building closed after the 2007-08 season after 72 years of service, and all students now attend Sheffield and Rockwell. Each remaining school will have K - 3, Rockwell will house 4 - 8 and Sheffield 9 - 12.

~ Thornton Chamber of Commerce

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
by Deb Nicklay

School on Register:
Thornton building historically siginificant

THORNTON - When Thornton residents built their new school in 1936, they probably weren't worrying whether it would survive into the next century - they perhaps just wanted it to last longer than its predecessor, which was destroyed by fire.

But today, the school remains, much to the pleasure of the National Register of Historic Places.

The Thornton Consolidated School is one of 14 Iowa schools to earn a listing on the register, and the only one chosen from North Iowa. Today the school is home to middle school and elementary school students for Meservey-Thornton Community Schools.

"Thornton Consolidated School is locally significant . . . for its association with the era of school consolidation of rural townships with independent schools that provided educational services to rural areas in Iowa," says the summary compiled by the National Park Service, which administrates the listing.

The school will be included in a booklet outlining historically significant country, town and city schools which will be distributed to public libraries and other agencies, said Beth FOSTER HILL, National Register coordinator of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

"There is a growing interest in schools, and so many are so beautiful and should be preserved," she said.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources considered worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program designed to identify, evaluate and protect historic and archeological resources.

A team surveyed 100 schools in the state and selected 30 to be listed. Of that group, 14 schools were chosen, HILL said.

The school replaced one that burned to the ground on Jan. 24, 1935. By the end of that year, the school was granted a $38,250 Public Works Administration grant for a new building. The building cost $85,000 to build. The balance of the cost was paid for through fire insurance and a local bond issue.

The Public Works Administration was designed to put Depression-plagued Americans to work. Between 1933 and 1939, the federal agency spent $3.3 billion on public projects, ranging from schools and post offices to hospitals, roads and dams.

The school was built of buff-colored brick and art deco accents. Harry P. Hansen and Karl Waggoner, who designed many of the school buildings in Mason City, were the architects. The general contractor was RYE and HENKEL, also of Mason City. The school was expanded in 1955 with the addition of more classrooms and a new gym.

"Owing to the unique design and arrangement, the Thornton school plant is attracting considerable attention in North Iowa," said a Globe Gazette article reporting on the school's dedication in December 1936. "According to reports, enrollment of tuition pupils has increased considerably because of the new building."

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Saturday, July 5, 2008
By Mary Pieper

Old friends say farewell to Thornton school

THORNTON ó Iona AHRENS, who was among the first students to attend Thornton school when it was completed in 1936, returned to the school Saturday to relive old memories.

"It's sad to see it all go by the wayside," said the Thornton resident, who started eighth grade at the school and graduated in 1941. "So many kids who graduated from here have done well for themselves."

An open house was held at the school Saturday as part of a Meservey-Thornton School alumni reunion.

The school, which was expanded in 1955, closed at the end of the 2007-08 school year due to the whole-grade sharing agreement between the Sheffield-Chapin/Meservey Thornton and Rockwell-Swaledale school districts which begins this fall.

The school, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built to replace an earlier building destroyed by fire.

AHRENS remembers attending school at a dance hall and various churches in town while the new school was being built.

The school later consolidated with Meservey. The last Meservey-Thornton High School graduating class was in 1988. After that, Meservey-Thornton students went to high school in Sheffield.

The Thornton building was serving as the SCMT Middle School when it closed this spring.

Ryan FROHLING of Ventura, a 1988 Meservey-Thornton graduate, brought his two children, Emma, 7, and Max, 4, to the open house.

He said when he mentioned getting the invitation, "they said they wanted to see where I went to school."

FROHLING said the open house also gave him the chance to visit with former classmates he hadnít seen since graduation.

Former teachers at the school also came back for the open house.

Dennis CABALKA, who now lives in Ladora, taught instrumental music at the Thornton school from 1973 to 1976. It was his first teaching job. He said he and his wife, Janine, knew they would come to the open house the minute they heard about it.

"We miss the people in the community," he said. "It's a warm, open community."

Former teachers Gary and Rosemary MUHLENBRUCK of Thornton also came to the open house. Gary taught junior high school, driverís ed and other subjects at the school from 1962 to 1995. Rosemary taught first grade there for 25 years. Students called Gary "Mr. Mully," and Rosemary "Mrs. M." Rosemary said seeing former students during the open house was a great experience.

"He has four generations of kids," said Rosemary. "They are your kids forever."

Gary said it is sad to see the school close, but "I remember everything. I've got it in my head. Thatís enough."

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Saturday, July 23, 2008
By Deb Nicklay

Thornton school sale set for Wednesday

THORNTON - Items in Thornton school will be sold on an abandoned property sale at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 27, at the school.

The property was purchased by Richard Westcott of Mason City at the time he purchased the school building. The school district later canceled the sale of the building. The items went unclaimed.

The Cerro Gordo sheriff's office will sell the items.

A wide range of items will be sold, from chalkboards and overhead projectors to volleyball stands and shelving.

A full listing can be found on the county's website.

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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
Sunday, January 02, 2011
by Richard Johnson

Backroads North Iowa: Thornton
School History

The Thornton school building was built in 1936 after the previous school burned in a large fire. In 1955, a large addition, including a gymnasium, library, offices, and additional classrooms was added. In 1963, the building became the high school, and later the Jr.-Sr. High, for the combined Meservey-Thornton school district. Due to declining enrollments, in 1983 the Meservey building was closed and the Thornton facility was again used for grades K-12.

In 1988, Meservey-Thornton began whole-grade sharing with Sheffield-Chapin school district, and the building was used as an elementary and middle-school.

The Meservey-Thornton mascot was the "Lancers". When the high school classes moved to Sheffield in 1988, the Lancer mascot was retained for the middle-school sports teams. However, with the S-C and M-T districts formally merging in 2007, the Lancer mascot was officially retired with a parade in July, 2007.

Due to declining enrollment, the former S-C, M-T, and neighboring Rockwell-Swaledale school districts entered a whole-grade sharing agreement to become the West Fork school district in 2008, with the "Warhawks" as the new mascott.

The Thornton building closed after the 2007-08 season after 72 years of service, and all students now attend Sheffield and Rockwell. Each remaining school will have K - 3, Rockwell will house 4 - 8 and Sheffield 9 - 12.

~ Thornton Chamber of Commerce

~ ~ ~ ~

Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
April 17, 2012
by Deb Nicklay

THORNTON - A Thornton landmark is being demolished.

The Thornton School, closed for the past four years, is being taken down by Peterson Backhoe of Dumont.

Work began in February and since that time, much of the interior was gutted and stripped of salvage, such as steel and copper pipes.

Now, exterior demolition has begun.

The school was closed in 2008, ending a 76-year history in the community.

According to the city website, the Thornton school building was built in 1936 after the previous school burned in a large fire.

In 1955, a large addition, including a gymnasium, library, offices, and additional classrooms, was built.

In 1963, the building became the high school, and later the junior-senior high school, for the combined Meservey-Thornton school district.

Later, the Meservey-Thornton School District entered a whole-grade sharing agreement with the Sheffield-Chapin school district, and the building was used as an elementary and middle school. The two districts later merged.

The Sheffield-Chapin/Meservey-Thornton district tried to sell the building in 2009, but the agreement failed and the board opted to demolish the building.

The district later merged with Rockwell-Swaledale, to form West Fork Community Schools.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2013

 

 

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