Historic Structures

Battlement Mesa School, Battlement Mesa Colorado

Date added: January 22, 2010 Categories: Colorado School Rustic

This building was originally constructed in 1897 as a one-room schoolhouse. Native red stone was hauled by team and wagon two miles from a rock quarry which supplied building material for other structures in the area.

An addition 1n 1907, utilizing the same native stone, resulted in the building's present "T" plan configuration. The original portion of the building is believed to have been constructed by a local builder named Reed. No information relating to Mr. Reed has been found. Structural differences between the front and-rear portions suggest that a different builder was responsible for the newer rear portion.

Evidence of alteration to one set of side windows in the front suggests an even later renovation which may reflect a Prairie School influence. A concrete lintel and patched masonry evidence alteration of two single windows modified to allow for increased light.

The 1897 structure replaced an original school which had been built of logs about 1889. The one-room log school was abandoned in 1897 and became the residence of the R.O. Gardner family, who had purchased the land from the Doby family.

R.O. Gardner, also father of Albert Gardner, who taught at the Battlement School, gained recognition as a local folk hero following the Parachute train-robbery of 1904. Gardner was believed to have shot and killed Kid Curry of the notorious Wild Bunch, members of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's gang.

Land provided by George M. Sipprell in 1886 was the basis for the construction of the stone building. Sipprell, a law graduate from Maine, served as postmaster, banker, lawyer and judge in Parachute.

Other names associated with the school include members of the original Battlement Mesa School Board: William K. Tanney, Nels M. Goode, John McGuirk. The school's first teacher was Mary Shutt. Other teachers included: Olive Brown, June Brown, Vera Foster, Mary Luellan, Albert Gardner, Mr. Poplin.

The Stone school was Garfield County District #18 until the Wallace Creek School was constructed in the 1920's about five miles to the west. Battlement School became District #45 and Wallace Creek School became District #18.

Pupils at the Battlement School hauled water from a well behind the school and drank from a single tin dipper. At some point, water from Battlement Creek was piped into the school.

Enrollment sometimes required two teachers and the use of both rooms. More often the school housed 12 to 20 children and only one teacher. The older front room was often used as a sort of gymnasium. Baskets were tacked up for basketball.