Steamboat Springs School Board approves early measures toward Fly Gulch Schoolhouse renovation | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School Board approves early measures toward Fly Gulch Schoolhouse renovation

Ben Ingersoll

The decades-old Fly Gulch Schoolhouse on the Strawberry Park Elementary School campus has a group of teachers lobbying for its revitalization.

— The untouched waist-deep snow surrounding the Fly Gulch Schoolhouse on the Strawberry Park Elementary School campus reveals how little the facility is used these days, but a group of teachers is trying to change that.

Strawberry Park teachers Anna White, Lisa Adams and Kristi Lear, with the backing of school principal Tracy Stoddard, recently submitted a Challenge Fund grant application to restore the decades-old schoolhouse and convert it into a miniature history museum for students.

But once Challenge Fund parents heard about the building's history and the vision the teachers had for its future, the group thought plans should go bigger.

So instead of asking the Challenge Fund to pay for its renovations, it was decided to approach the Colorado State Historical Fund with an initial grant request of $8,750 to go toward construction assessments.

Before trying to tap into state funds, though, the Steamboat Springs School Board approved the group's application to seek historical distinction for the old schoolhouse through the Routt County Historical Society.

The project, which White estimates could take up to three years to complete, is for the students, built by the students.

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"The final project will be something like a timeline, a piece of steel that runs around the entire middle of the building like a belt, and then there is going to be dates on that timeline about every 25 years," White said. "The idea is that every grade, every year will add things to the timeline."

White also said there will be a storytelling component, and that Marianne Capra from Steamboat's Tread of Pioneers Musuem is developing a kindergarten through fifth grade oral story. The idea is that each grade level will have a different lesson within the renovated building, and lessons can be added to the timeline so future students will be more knowledgeable about Yampa Valley's history.

"(One of our goals) is the fifth graders can give the tours to younger grades, because by then, they (the fifth graders) will actually know the history and they can retell it to them (the younger students)," White said.

The Steamboat Springs School District has maintained the schoolhouse for the last 22 years after it was relocated in 1992 from the Fly Gulch area northwest of Steamboat. The Fly Gulch School District dates back to the 1800s.

White and company have a grand vision for the schoolhouse's revitalization, but a lot of construction is going to take place before any students step foot inside.

In the grant proposal written by district grant writer Karla Setter and submitted to the State Historical Fund, the extensive work includes significant amounts of mold and rodent control. The initial funds will be used for historical structure assessment, the grant proposal states, so a professional can guide the team toward a total building renovation.

Then, if all goes well, White says, they will ask the state for more funds to get construction rolling.

"We are all super psyched," White said. "Our first idea was just us sitting around thinking we might get $5,000 for storytelling, and we will just repaint the inside or something. The Challenge Fund parents were so instrumental in saying, 'Wait a minute, you can do more.'"

White said the earliest she expects to hear back about state grant approval or denial would be this summer.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll