This week for our Friends of Huss campaign, we’re taking ourselves back to 1982, when the Huss Elementary School school closed. Jo Barton, a music teacher at the time, shared her perspective of the closing in an interview with *culture is not optional intern Christina Binder in 2009:
When they closed the building, we were all devastated. We couldn’t see any reason for it. And I’m sure that you’ll hear this from other people. You know, they did it because the boiler was bad, and that was just [not true]. The boiler was still working years, and years, and years later after they closed the building. But when they closed the building then they sent all the little kids out to the other schools in the district. When they closed that building, then they eliminated art, music, and phys. ed. from the curriculum because they didn’t have the money.
Barton elaborated on the importance of the building as a center of community:
I think buildings have energy. I think that when that building was alive with children, that that creates an energy in the community. And when you abandon it, then that takes away that energy that belongs in that little community. And that robs the community of that vibrancy of that energy when that building is no longer used. If that makes sense…. I think closing Huss made this ripple effect in the whole town and in the whole Three Rivers community.
When *culture is not optional bought the building in 2009, Barton said, “To draw people back into that community is just really wonderful.” She was excited to see what we were going to do with the building to re-enliven it for the good of the neighborhood:
I think that what’s happening at Huss right now is on the right track. I think it’s, I really do, I think that what’s happening right now is gonna restore, you know, the energy to that building and give it a second life as, not necessarily as a school, but as a place in that community and in the larger community as a whole.
The Huss Project is committed to making the building a hub for community again, where we as neighbors can thrive together. And while we have made significant strides in our first ten years, we are excited to finally open the Imaginarium as the first phase of the building restoration. We look forward to hosting community events for many years to come!
If you were an alum, family member or staff member at Huss Elementary School, we’d love to hear your story and feature it on the web site.
Picture credits: Three Rivers Commercial News, found by Katherine Brundige.
Please accept our invitation to join us in this work by becoming a Friend of Huss! With a monthly donation of $10 or more, our Friends are the foundation for a flourishing future for our creative, community-building efforts. Thank you for your partnership!