History of 3R Schoolhouse & Landmark Corporation
The Lonsdale Schoolhouse was old Rice County School District 76. The historic building was erected in 1908 and abandoned around 1948 when Lonsdale elementary students began to attend neighboring consolidated schools.
After a seven year restoration project sponsored by 3R Landmark, Inc., the Lonsdale Schoolhouse was reopened to the public in October 1986. The first floor of this two story building is a museum; the second floor is preserved as the original school room. The School, with its unique cupola, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it serves the community as an historic monument to the immigrants who settled around Lonsdale.
The 3R Landmark Corporation had its start on November 15, 1978. On that day, Mrs. Loretta Reece, who with her husband, owns a farm near Lonsdale, met with 15 Lonsdale women to discuss the idea of restoring the two story Lonsdale pubic schoolhouse, built in 1908 but abandoned in 1948. That meeting led to these events in late 1978 – the making of a model to show what the restored schoolhouse would look like; the forming of a Restoration Committee; the beginnings of research into the background of Patrick Sullivan, builder of the school; and the drafting of an application for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
By January 1979, the Lonsdale City Council approved the application, and it was submitted to the Minnesota Historical Society. Shortly thereafter, architect William Broderson suggested the Restoration Committee change its name to the 3R Landmark Corporation. The first officers were: Loretta Reece, President; Agnes Kadrlik, Vice President, Leonard Daleiden, Treasurer, Rose Smisek, Secretary, Ben Malecha, Director-At-Large.
In April 1979, the 3R Landmark Corporation held a public meeting in the Lonsdale American Legion Hall to discuss possible uses of the school, to unveil a model of the school, and to present slides explaining the project. Various speakers spoke in support of the school. Two hundred and fifty (250) citizens attended the meeting.
Events happened quickly following the meeting. These included: a presentation of ink drawing and note cards by Michael Hackett, a local artist; and erection of a sign in front of the schoolhouse asking for community support of the restoration. In the meantime, 3R Landmark presented their case before a Lonsdale business group, held a barn dance to show appreciation for local support, appeared before Rice County commissioners to request revenue funds, met before the Grant Committee of the Minnesota State Historical Society, and staged a major fundraising concert in New Prague. The concert featured Mrs. Rose Smisek and her daughter, Sister Anita Smisek. In September these various activities culminated in the Lonsdale Public Schoolhouse being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Groundbreaking, Building, Subsequent Fund-Raising
In December, 1979, the Lonsdale City Council approved a ninety-nine year lease of the schoolhouse to 3R Landmark Corporation. In March, 1980, an article on the project appeared in the Sunday picture magazine of the Minneapolis Tribune. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on April 22, with over 100 citizens, including the mayor, attending. At this point, 3R Landmark signed a contract with the architect and fundraising was begun in earnest. The Lonsdale Lions Club staged a pig-roast; the State Bank of Lonsdale and Robert Pint, owner of Lonsdale Machine and Tool Company, contributed to the project. These contributions, along with generous donations from members proved sufficient to initiate construction in September, 1980. By November, foundation work, utility connections, and grading on the grounds were completed. In the interim, 3R Landmark held a reunion for former students and teachers, and current friends of the schoolhouse.