Washburn Co. WIGenWeb

Shell Lake Schools

In December 1881, the first school in Shell Lake was established.  It was little more than a small log building, which was built by Dan Thomas as a trading post.  The school itself was a private school, with Miledge Irwin as the teacher.  She was succeeded by Miss Clara Stratton and then by Miss Friberg.  Two years later a two room schoolhouse was built on the grounds where the Methodist Church now stands.  Mary Crocker taught the primary grades  and Clara Stratton taught the upper grades.  Another school building was built up on the hill in the Company's Pasture for the mill-row children.  Miss Elizabeth Stratton and Nellie Carol were the first to teach in that school.  In 1885, a wooden frame building was built just up the road from  the two room school house.  This site would be used for school purposes for the next 100 + years!  In 1890 the school building on the west side of the street was erected.  Those two buildings could accomodate about 350 students.

In the early days, contagious diseases were rampant, especially among school children.  In 1894 schools were closed for vaccination.  E. R. Daniels opened up an evening school at Con Borgh's big house; instruction was given twice a week.

The class of 1902 was the first class to graduate under the four year course in high school, although Melissa Jones, who graduated from the three year course in 1898, came back and took the extra year's work and is claimed she received a diploma in 1900.

On September 1, 1916, the Shell Lake High School burned.  It was insured for $19,755 including the contents.  School was held in the auditorium, but once again, tragedy struck.  On February 21, 1917, the auditorium burned.

In the fall of 1917 the new school building was not completed in time for school starting.  Therefore, temporary use of the court house, the Methodist Church, and the Swedish Lutheran Church was offered and accepted.  The new school building was estimated to cost $29, 563.

In 1940, voters authorized the school board to make a loan of $2400 for a gymnasium.  Later they approved a loan of $29, 983 and had the WPA project set up the construction, which was estimated to cost $50,000.

In 1958, $220,000 was voted for a new school building, located on South 3rd St. in Shell Lake, this school would be in use for the grades of K though 6.  In 1995 a new school was built on Hwy. 63 south of the city of Shell Lake.  This new building houses the high school, middle school, and primary grades of 3 through 6.  The school on South 3rd St. still holds classes for K through 2nd grades.

(Portions of this history were found in the book "The Story of Shell Lake" by A.L. Stouffer)

Also see the Shell Lake High School Graduate Lists!


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