MCHS at 70: Excelsior School, District 12

Students inside the Excelsior School House around the late 1800’s.

It’s time for another edition of MCHS at 70!  This month, we’re looking at the one-room school house and its life before it became part of a museum.

District No. 12 school organized in 1859 when Rev. Samual Loomis taught the first classes.  The first building was an old log house in section 3.  Shortly after, a log school house was built on the site.  In 1861, Joseph and Hannah Epler donated the land to the school district.

The present building was built in 1870. The men living in the area built the walls and roof of poplar and oak logs and then hired a carpenter to do the finishing details and build the seats and desks.  It was heated by a large stove that looked like a drum and

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District 12 school house in its original location in Lyle Township in 1940.

stood about six feet high and had two new blackboards.  Two rows of double seats ran down the middle of the room with a single row on each end.  The teacher’s desk looked like a kitchen table and stood on a small platform at the front of the classroom.  The front row of desks was used for recitation and the students stood in front of the class when it was their turn to recite.

The wood frame building was used until 1956 when schools consolidated.  It was

Visitors to the school during the 2016 Mower County Fair.

moved to the Mower County Historical Society in 1957.   It arrived on the fairgrounds at 10:45am on June 2, 1957.  Along the way, overhanging branches were cut, electric wires and phone lines were removed, and the sides from two small steel bridges were cut away for the building to make its final journey.  At the dedication ceremony on August 9, 1945, it was dedicated “in tribute to all country school houses.”


The school waits for wires to be moved on Highway 105 about two miles south of Austin as it made its way to the Mower County Historical Society in June 1957.
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Students enjoy recess at District 12 in 1940.
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District 12 students in 1940.



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