Henry County Heritage Center


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West Side of the building, looking towards the East.  1953 addition is in the foreground.

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East Side of the building, looking towards the West. Older section of the school is in the foreground.  Notice the "1916" corner stone on the East Side of the building.

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Brief Saunders School History

Saunders School is located at 203 North White Street, three blocks NW of the Square in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. The school grounds occupy an entire block, with Henry Street to the north, Van Buren Street to the west, Madison Street to the south and White Street to the east. 

Saunders School was built to replace Winona School, which held classes from 1866-1916. Winona School was located in the same block and has been demolished. Saunders School was built in 1916, with students first attending classes in January of 1917. 

Saunders School closed on June 4, 1998, after serving the elementary students of Mt. Pleasant and numerous rural students of Henry County for eighty-one years. The building has been vacant since that time.

In December 2006, plans were formulated to transform Saunders School into a museum and art center, to once again serve the people of Henry County. 

Pat Ryan White, 
Mt. Pleasant, IA



Copper Box Filled With Interesting Information Concerning Mt. Pleasant. 
Song, Prayer and Address Made. 
Building Pleases.

Simple but suitable services were carried out at Winona [Saunders] school house Friday afternoon when there was committed to the solid walls of the structure a copper box containing a number of articles that would a hundred years from now throw some light upon the intellectual, social and financial condition of the community at the time the building was erected.

Theoretically, the ceremony was the laying of the corner stone of the new school building; as a matter of fact, the ceremony of laying of corner stones has not been observed for many years.

Before the days of concrete foundations and modern building methods, the corner stones of large structures were indeed the corner stones of strength and permanency. The largest and strongest stones were selected for the bottom of the foundation, but that day is over and now the practice is observed of selecting some ornate rock formation, and after chiseling upon its outside some appropriate inscription to set it where it will be most conspicuous and without regard to its responsibility in caring for the weight of the walls of the building.

Contents of the Box.

At the new school building the “corner stone” is a block of granite and on its outward face is cut the figures “1916”. Within it was placed a copper receptacle filled with the following articles:

Copy of “Mt. Pleasant Beautiful”.
Mason’s Directory of Henry County.
Latest financial statements of the four city banks.
Annual year books of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist churches.
The last telephone directory.
Latest financial report of Henry County.
Latest catalogue of Henry County Fair.
Year books of Rambler, P.E.O. and L.L. A.
Rules and regulations of Athenian club.
Latest catalogue of Iowa Wesleyan College.
Latest copies of Chicago Tribune, Des Moines Register, Burlington Hawkeye, Mt. Pleasant Free Press and Mt. Pleasant Weekly and Daily News.
Picture of corps of teachers of the old Winona taken a short time before the building was abandoned.
“Order of business” cards of school board, public library and city council.
Letter heads of number of business firms.
A Lincoln penny and Buffalo nickle of coinage of this year.

Also a note written by the editor of the News and addressed to whomsoever may open box, stating the weather conditions, and other facts surrounding the services and hoping for the generation that will be represented at the opening of the box the same loyalty to education that the present generation manifests.

Large Number Present.

There was quite a number of people present to participate in the simple services. Mr. McGrew, president of the board, had charge of the services. Rev. C. M. Rauch, pastor of the Presbyterian church opened the services with the song “America” in which the audience joined. Rev. Rauch then offered a word of prayer and Rev. F. E. Weston, pastor of the Baptist church made a few very well chosen remarks. Mr. McGrew then read a list of the articles in the copper box and workmen at once proceeded to cover the box with brick and morter, hiding it from the sight, it is hoped, until the demands of the children bring down the structure, to give way to something more modern still. With the benediction by Rev. Rauch, the simple ceremonies were closed, the gathering departed, and the work of the erection of the building proceeded.


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Something of the Building.

It might have been said that Superintendent Cruikshank gave to the audience an explanation of the several floors of the structure and it may be of interest to the reader of the News to get a little information.

On the basement floor will be a large fuel room, the boiler room, the fan room, which provides forced ventilation, store rooms, closets for the janitor, and also and by far from the least a fine, large, well lighted, heated and comfortable room about forty by fifty feet which can be used as a play room in bad weather, an assembly room, a kindergarten room, or a community center for club work for that part of town. This room will be completely finished, perfectly lighted and will be in no way a makeshift, but will be one of the pleasantest rooms of the building. On the first floor will be the bright and sun flooded corridors running the entire length of the building, there being similar entrances from the east and west. Access to the basement will also be from either end of this corridor. Here also will be drinking fountains, pictures on the walls, ferns and potted plant, and everything to make it cheerful and bright for the children. On the north side of the building will be two class rooms, one for the kindergarten, and one for the first and second grades. On the second floor will be the same arrangement as on the first floor, and where will be taken care of the third and fourth grades in one room and the fifth and sixth in another. This floor will also have a sun flooded corridor, wainscoted with cream colored enameled brick, which will give a most delightful appearance. At the west end of the corridor, instead of a staircase there has been provided a teachers retiring room, about twelve feet square, and provided with lavatory and toilet, heated, lighted and made just as cheerful and homey as possible. There will be a rug on the floor, a desk for the principal of the building, a lounge and a rocker or two, book case, and in fact, a little private room to which the teachers and no one else are to have access.

Generally speaking, the location of the building, the architecture and general plans have met with the approval of those who have taken the trouble to investigate and it is believed that when the building is occupied, which will be about Christmas, that Mt. Pleasant will possess a model grade building which will be its pride and its joy for at least three generations.

Indeed there is but one more step to be taken to provide this city with a modern school outfit, and that is the new structure to replace the ancient Central, the oldest school building of the city.

--“Mt. Pleasant News”, August 26, 1916, Page 3

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