We’re sure you’re aware that Sievers (now the shop and library area) was originally the Jackson Harbor School, for grades one through eight, dating back to 1891. Built at a cost of $450, early records indicate as many as 46 students attended at one time.
Sylvia (Andersen) Nelson began teaching at the Jackson Harbor School in 1930 at a salary of $100 a month. From the book, “Island Schools, Then and Now”, she recalled aspects of the schoolhouse during the winter months.
“A small shelf held an enamel washbasin, a pail for clean water, soap dispenser, and a pail for wastewater. Since (the entry area) was never heated, the water froze in winter. For drinking, there was a crock-like container commonly called ‘the bubbler’. It was made of heavy pottery and very difficult to clean (teacher’s job). ” It occasionally froze and broke if it got cold enough at night.
“A large pot-bellied stove with a big metal jacket around it stood in the southeast corner of the room. Attached to it was a metal container which held a couple gallons of water and humidified the air. The teacher was the janitor. Boys helped by carrying in wood and kindling from the woodshed (now a lovely cottage which houses teachers for the Sievers School of Fiber Arts). Fires were built in the morning since they were not kept going overnight.”
“Since the building had no insulation, no storm windows and 15 foot ceilings, in winter it began to get fairly warm only by late afternoon. The teacher wore her boots all day. With the help of a WPA crew, the ceiling was dropped a few feet, a double floor put under the teacher’s desk and storm windows installed. This made the building easier to heat.”
“I lived five miles away – no problem when the weather was good. In winter, I boarded with neighbors near the school. If there was a bad snowstorm, neighbors hitched their team to a bobsled and took pupils home. One -30 degree morning only the teacher and one boy appeared at the school. For her pains, the teacher had a frosted spot on her nose. The boy walked one and a half miles, the teacher about one block.”
“Of all the Memories of the past, School Memories are the ones that last.”
When Walter Schutz purchased the building and established Sievers School, one of its great appeals was that it was originally a schoolhouse. He and Sylvia Nelson were good friends and she told him a number of stories of her days as the teacher at the Jackson Harbor School. They both highly valued education of all kinds. Walter would say, “Anything learned is never wasted”. In that spirit, we continue the legacy of learning which began 130 years ago within these same walls.
Part of continuing that legacy is through the Sievers Scholarship fund. From donations received through the years, the scholarship fund offers the opportunity for alumni or new students to attend a class when they might otherwise not be able to do so financially. Since the first scholarship was awarded 20 years ago, a total of 57 recipients have been awarded scholarships. For more information or to apply for a scholarship, please contact us. Application deadline is April 1.