When you walk into The Pink School on Mason parkland on West Ash Street, you can immediately feel the history in the 720-square-foot one-room schoolhouse. An old piano sits next to an American flag in the corner. Wall cases display old documents such as attendance records and homework assignments from the late 1800s. The desks are a hodgepodge of different designs, yet they all sit three feet off the ground with the old-fashioned bench seat that connects to the desktop. Protecting a 167-year-old landmark like this is important for the people of Mason. With its new fundraising campaign, the Mason Area Historical Society is doing just that.
On March 5, the historical society opened the doors of The Pink School to mark the start of its fundraising campaign to restore the schoolhouse’s exterior.
“We’ve reached the point where some major restoration is needed on the school’s exterior,” said Historical Society President Doug Klein.
Upkeep in the form of repainting the light pink exterior walls has been made in the past, but Klein says major change is now required to fix the woodwork. “Painting alone this time won’t be enough to bring ‘The Pink’ back to where it needs to be to last through the coming decades,” said Klein.
The Pink School was at the northeast corner of College and Columbia roads until April of 1976 when it was picked up, placed on a truck and moved to its current location where it now serves as a museum.
Elaine Ferris, a Mason City Council member, has lived in Mason since she was a little girl. She donated to the restoration project because she knows the importance of keeping in touch with history.
“Mason’s hometown is tying together the people that their mother or grandmother taught here, and their grandkids will look back and they can show them where they went to school and what school was like in the old days,” said Ferris.
Her father was a postal worker and her mother a librarian. The two were fascinated by the Historical Society, and Ferris appreciates that the community places importance on keeping parts of the past alive.
“We cherish our past, and we like to share it because it’s a connection for nearly everyone, so it’s all pulling us together,” said Ferris.
Supporters and donors flocked to the schoolhouse for the pink-themed open house and a few presented Klein with checks. Mason Sycamore Creek Garden Club, which cares for many public gardens around the city including those outside The Pink School, gave $700 for the restoration. Garden Club President Diann Jackman presented the donation in memory of the Garden Club’s past president, Barb Ketchum.
Chris Buck, a managing partner at Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial, announced a pledge by Modern Woodmen of up to $2,500 in matching funds.
“The big part of our organization is giving back to the community… any way we can give back to the community, we’re more than welcome to do that,” said Buck.
In just one month, the historical society has raised more than $8,500 toward its $12,000 goal. The restoration will be done by Community Building Services and is expected to take place this summer. Donations are still being accepted and can be submitted to the Mason Area Historical Society at www.masonmuseum.org.
The restoration project of The Pink School is not about appearance. It’s not about having a nicer building to look at. It’s about the people and the remembrance of what once was.
Ferris said, “The importance of (the Pink School) is a living, breathing connection with the past. With our past. And that’s the cool part. There are so few places that you can look at stuff and learn stuff. You can look at the flickering screens on the computer, but when you’re right here sitting at these hard desks that’s when you know. We care for people.”