Back to SVHS Home Page

That Old Brick Building Coming Down

by Don Blegen, SVHS Class of '57


Paul Seeling, the editor of the SUN/ARGUS asked me if I had anything to contribute relating to the demolition of the '29 school building on the Dam Days pin, the one that replaced the high school that burned down in 1928.


Well, yes I did.  But it would be way too big a contribution, having spent large portions of twelve years in that building.  Enough to fill a book with my memories, and that's not what Paul needed.  What he needed is something that summed  it all up in a short piece Especially a  piece that helps brings back YOUR  memories as well.


That building overflows with my memories, but also the memories of just about everybody that grew up in the Spring Valley area since 1929.  That building was built in record time to replace a previous school building that burned down. The  new building was built of brick instead of wood and has lasted until now, so sturdy it needs to be demolished by heavy equipment.


A building nestled against the Eau Galle River, that river with two faces.   On the one hand, the village was named because of its springs of pure, cold water.  Mines and Burghardt Creeks' spring water feed the Eau Galle right in town..  On the other hand,  the river frequently flooded. So often, in fact,  that storekeepers had specially designed doors and windows to keep the water out.  The river flooded nearly every year, sometimes several times, and the Big Flood of '42,  nearly wiped us out.  That one even shut down the brick building for awhile.


A building that furnished the education of children that mostly grew up to leave Spring Valley and find jobs and homes somewhere else.  Most of them quite successfully, having learned what they needed in the brick building before they left.


The building is intertwined with the history of the consolidation of the country schools surrounding the village, much to the credit of Rudolph Syverson who was the principal,  superintendent, bookkeeper and disciplinarian through the Thirties, Forties, and into the Fifties. 


Syver led through the  difficult years of the Great Depression, and into WWII, when many young men left school to enlist to fight the forces of Hirohito and Hitler. And when they came back to finish their high school years, IF they came back, they were not innocent farm boys anymore. 


After a long, long time, a dam was finally built to control the flooding.  New school buildings were built.  Other area schools like Hudson, River Falls,  and Menomonie, grew larger while we stayed pretty much the same.  Traditional Homecoming bonfires decorated with outhouses came and went.  Initiation of freshmen disappeared.  Some years we were champions, some years not  Outstanding teachers came and went. The proms, homecomings, romances, and learning continued. Every year another class graduated, and memories piled on memories.  Memories of classmates, of teachers, of ball games, of dances, and more.  Much more.


Now they are tearing down that brick building so full of memories. A brick  building that will from now on exist only in OUR memories.