School offers last chance to tour 1923 building

As New Prague Area Schools prepares to decommission and demolish its 1923 high school building, the district will host a “Memory Walk” of the historic structure on Sunday, April 23. 

According to Julie Schmitz, from the school district office, the doors will open to the 1923 building at noon on Sunday for former students and other community members to tour the building and relive memories. A program will begin at 2 p.m. in the upper portion of the building, with welcoming remarks from Superintendent Tim Dittberner, musical selection from the school bands, speakers Jim and Carole Lang and Dick Jonckowski and closing remarks from Mayor Chuck Nickolay

The New Prague Area Historical Society has prepared several displays with memorabilia from the building, and these will be on display as well. 

After the program, attendees will be welcome to roam the building. There will be cookies and refreshments.

Construction on the building began in 1923 and the building was dedicated in 1924, with a cost of $125,000 for construction. The building, on the corner of Third Street and First Ave. NW, was an addition to an older, since demolished building from the early 1900s and originally housed the high school. It was a “modern” high school with a gymnasium and proscenium stage, locker rooms, library, district office, science room, band room, study hall and classrooms. 

When an adjoining high school addition opened in 1963, it continued as part of the high school and junior high complex until a new high school opened 1976, at which time the 1907 building was razed.

Over the next 30 years the 1923 building housed students varying from grades 7-9, 6-8, 5-8 and finally 5-6 as enrollment shifted and a new high school was built in 1998. The building also housed the district offices for several years in the 1990s. When two new elementary schools opened in 2005, the building was converted again for district operations, along with special education and the alternative learning center. 

When the district conducted a facilities study several years ago, the building was found to have structural problems that made repair cost-prohibitive. A referendum passed in 2015 sealed the fate of the now 94-year-old structure. The referendum included plans to relocate the offices from the 1923 building, and they will be vacated once the new facilities are ready. Demolition is scheduled to take place beginning in June, and a new parking lot will be constructed to service the Early Childhood classrooms that will be located in the 1964 building.