Early schoolhouses of the Broomfield area

This article first appeared in the Broomfield Enterprise.

We’ve all heard of the classic one-room school houses that dotted the mostly uncivilized landscape of the Old West, and Broomfield was no exception. In our earliest days, we had two such schoolhouses, both built sometime in the 1880s. The first was the Broomfield School; the second was the Dry Creek School, which was subsequently renamed the Lorraine School. The Broomfield School was located around today’s East 10th Avenue and Main Street. The Lorraine School sat on today’s northeast corner of 112th and Pierce Streets.

Schools in those days were about as low-tech as you can get – there were no laptops or iPads, and nobody was texting their friends. Students either walked to school or rode a horse, which they stashed in the shed out back during the school day. Since plumbing hadn’t quite made its way west yet, the kids used an outhouse – as they likely did at home. In winter, a pot-bellied stove probably provided heat for the classroom.

One early teacher at the Lorraine School was Miss Katherine Jones, who taught there in the 1890s. In 1892, she married Frank Church, the son of local pioneers George and Sarah Church. Frank and Katherine’s son, Marcus Church, attended the Lorraine School from 1906 to 1913.

A few decades later, another Lorraine schoolteacher was Miss Emily E. Kruegel. In 1923, she married early Broomfield beekeeper, Miles Crawford. Apparently, Miss Kruegel used the standard disciplinary tool favored by teachers of the era – a sharp whack on the knuckles with a ruler.

In the 1930s, the Lorraine School was moved to West 119th Place.  It was later either moved again or destroyed. In 1952, the white Broomfield School was moved by Miles Crawford to 11975 Vance Street. There it still stands today, now used as a residence. The town then built a new brick school at the old location but that building was destroyed in 1958.

One interesting note about these schools is that they served kids only up to the eight grade. If you were free to continue your education through high school, you headed to nearby towns such as Louisville or Lafayette.

Another early school in the region was the Mandalay School at 10290 Wadsworth. The Mandalay was built by locals in the 1920s on land donated by the Church family. It was reportedly built using wood from the Bullwhackers’ Bunkhouse, which was part of the old Church’s stage stop. A local coal miner named Frank Miller dug the school’s basement by hand.

This school remained in use until sometime in the 1950s when the Juchem School was built at 9555 Yarrow Street. The Mandalay School building then became a community center and later the Mandalay Bible Church. Over the years, community activists and history lovers have rallied around the building and protected it from destruction and decay. It still stands today at the corner of Wadsworth and 103rd Avenue in what is now Westminster.

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One thought on “Early schoolhouses of the Broomfield area

  1. I started first grade at Mandalay in 1954. I was in the last first grade class to attend there. The first and second grade were taught in one room by Anna Plumlee. Mrs. Becker taught the 3rd and 4th grade in the other room. The 5th & 6th grade attended another school, but I don’t remember the name. Mrs. Boehme, across the street (Wadsworth) would come over in the early morning and start the fire in the basement furnace so the school would be warm when we got there. Her daughter Ruth was in my class. The music teacher and PE teacher were circuit riders. The Christmas play was held at the Grange in Broomfield. The 5th and 6th graders were in the program with us. The outhouses still stand. In January, 1955 we moved to Juchem, the new school with indoor plumbing and water fountains. The Mandalay school served as a church for a Baptist church that used the building for a while. That’s where I attended Sunday School.

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