Goodbye My Friend

by John Tischer on June 9, 2011 · 3 comments

Fonda Community High School

Fonda Community High School February 1928 to February 2015

I got a letter the end of March 2011 from the “Save FCS” committee. The school building is no longer used by Newell-Fonda Community School District and the school wants out from under having to maintain it and take care of it.

The committee has plans for turning the gym into an event center to be used for dances, receptions, auctions, trade shows, community events etc. They also have plans for a fitness center with an exercise pool, adult education center, senior center, a rec center for the children and the FCS museum. Finally, those rooms remaining could be leased to businesses and provide income for the center as well as help Fonda become a thriving community again. All they need is $100,000.00.

In speaking with one of the committee members the initial money would be used to put in a new heating system and provide basic maintenance and upkeep for the first year. I asked if the city was going to be a part of this and make a financial committment as well. I was told no. I was also told that the school system was going to give them the money that was to be used to tear it down to help get them started, however, the school now has changed their mind and wants to see if the group can raise the 100k. They had till May 1st to come up with the pledges.

The Fonda school district came about in March of 1880 because of a petition for an independent school district. It was originally approved by the Cedar Township directors who reversed their actions two days later due to difficulties that arose. The difficulties were resolved in November 18th when Wm. Bott, George Fairburn and A.B.P. Woods ceded back to the township 4 sections of land.

The school grounds were purchased in 1882 and the first four rooms where built in 1884. Later two additional rooms were added and a kindergarten erected a short distance from the building. Fonda was the first of the high schools in the county to have a graduating class in 1894. By 1900 the need was realized for an expansion of the school building and bonds were voted for this purpose and plans for the building were drawn. For some unknown reason the building was not erected. In March of 1907 at meeting of the school board it was proposed that an addition was needed or for a replacement. Architects and builders were consulted and it was determined that the current building was unfit for an addition so a new building was proposed. A two story, 20 room building 104 X 73 was built and completed by December of that year with a full basement and gym.

A January 1927 fire completely destroyed the building. Offers from various places in town for use as class rooms was given to the school and soon the classes were resumed. In June of 1927 a contract was let for erection of the building. Curry Construction from Waterloo, Iowa was awarded the contract for $83,734.00. The plumbing contract was given to A.P. Johnson of Rockwell City, Iowa for $18,157.91 and the electric wiring contact was givin to another Waterloo, Iowa company for $3,883.00. Total cost of the project was $105,774.91. At the end of February 1928 the current building was opened and occupied. The students lined up on Main street and marched to the school with cornets and drums leading the way.

All of us have wonderful memories of our time at FCS and while it would have be wonderful to save the building, I doubt if long term the community can support it and maintain it.

Oh we never know where life will take us
I know it’s just a ride on the wheel
And we never know when death will shake us
And we wonder how it will feel

So goodbye my friend
I know I’ll never see you again
But the time together through all the years
Will take away these tears
It’s ok now
Goodbye my friend

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Blume June 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for a wonderful story/memories. Wonder how many people remember the Al Bell film events where he went to some tropical / or adventurous place and would then have the entire school assembly to watch his movie…
Some plays I remember seeing there were Harvey, 12 Angry Men, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Somehow when you were that young, there was a magical transformation to that old gym.


Tony Strauss July 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Thanks you for the information, I enjoy reading it.


Candy Cole Lee September 18, 2012 at 4:33 am

Just heard about your blog from your brother
Via facebook . I really enjoyed reading about the
Old times. Somewhere I have a picture of u as a bartender
At one of our proms.
I really miss the old times when we were carefree
And felt safe to go outside at night and did not
Worry about even locking our doors. Time
Has changed so much.


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