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History on the move

The 1890 Monticello School takes another step into the present as the crew from Woodhull Construction pushes it onto its permanent basement foundation June 13 in Maple. Once completed, the Monticello School and Museum Archives building will become the home of Old-Brule Heritage Society. Photo courtesy of Jim Pellman

Earlier this month, Woodhull Construction finished a move that was four years in the making. The Poplar-based company set the 1890 Monticello School on the pedestal of a new walk-out basement along the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and County Road F in Maple.

The basement is slated to become the base of operations for Old-Brule Heritage Society and its archives, once work on the site is complete.

A Woodhull crew trucked the one-room schoolhouse from the late Walter Erkkila farm in the town of Lakeside to Maple in 2013 and placed it on cribs. With the basement pedestal ready, they maneuvered it into place June 13.

Jim Pellman with Old-Brule Heritage Society followed the building's move with photos and commentary on the Friends of Old-Brule Heritage Society Facebook page.

"A project like this one is like an orchestral performance," he said. "Each one has their part to skillfully play to make the beauty rise. This is more like a flash mob, but the final result will long sing a song of freedom."

That work has just begun. It will take volunteers and money to bring the 1890s building back to the present as the Monticello School and Museum Archives.

Shingle and roof repair is critical, Pellman said, but can't begin until any lower support structures, framing and boards that are unsafe have been replaced. The walls and building frame will also be stiffened to prepare for the gift from Dicky Tuura — a school bell salvaged from an old school that burned in Waino.

Windows that were removed when the building was being used as a granary must be replaced, and the porch needs to be restored and repaired, complete with a new roof. Once those projects are complete, "new" siding salvaged from the Maple Finn Hall dating back to World War I, donated by Axel and Patsy Wiitala, will be added and the exterior painted red.

"To the degree possible we will use traditional materials and methods from 1890 in all our repairs and restoration," Pellman said. "All new wiring, and heating will be run out of sight, but we will insulate within the limits of what 2 x 4 construction allows as a comfort and economy measure."

Work on the basement, which will hold the society's archives, is on hold until the upper building is dried in. It will be completely modern in construction and include in-floor heat, a half-bath, utility room and hot water furnace.

"All of this work will be done as funds are secured, as we have done throughout the project," Pellman said.

Upcoming fundraisers for the project include a flea market bazaar on the Maple Town Hall grounds Aug. 26.

Volunteers are needed, but much of the work involved requires restoration experience. To help, contact Pellman at (218) 260-0711 or email For more information, visit the Facebook page or