1866—Residents Overturn School Board Vote
The Town of Pewaukee’s first school, a log building, was located on a site that today is occupied by Harris Lumber Company just southeast of the I-94/164 interchange. According to School Board minutes of Sept. 24, 1849, the school was in very poor condition and without blackboards or outhouses. While School Board minutes from 1853 suggest proposals for a new school, it wasn’t until the annual meeting of 1866 that a committee consisting of John Hodgson, William Chapman, and Frank Federer was formed to search for a new schoolhouse location. After four weeks, they reported all were in favor of a site belonging to John Hodgson that was most suitable for a school, “dry and central for the district.” They also reported that, after consulting with builders and masons, a stone school could not be constructed for less then $1,600.
A series of proposals (related to selling the existing school and raising sufficient revenues to construct a new stone building) failed on Nov. 3, 1866. Instead, by a vote of 19 to13, it was decided that just $300 in taxes would be raised to move the old log school to the new site and make repairs. At the insistence of seven agitated residents, a special meeting was held which rescinded the Nov. 3 resolution. Thus, on June 10, 1868, the school district paid one dollar to John and Esther Hodgson for a three-quarter acre parcel to build “a substantial stone building.”
An 1859 plat map shows that Hodgson owned a quarry south of where the school was built, a likely source of stone for the building.
1868—First Class Is Held
A one-room school was constructed in the summer of 1868 and was ready for classes that fall. Moses and Clark Hartwell, a father-and-son team considered to be leading Waukesha County contractors, were hired to oversee the carpentry and finish work. Samuel Eales was hired as a stonemason. (Eales, seen above, also served as the school’s first teacher. He was born in England in 1826 and arrived in Waukesha in 1844. In 1880 he developed a “floriculture” business, and in 1916, at the age of 90, he was found dead in his greenhouse. A street near Frame Park, east of the Fox River, bears his name.)
John Hodgson’s widow sold a large portion of land neighboring the school to Joseph Hadfield in 1872 to increase his quarrying and lime business. The Hadfield Company built “company houses” for its growing number of employees, and the increase in area population mandated expansion of the one-room school. In 1878, just 10 years after initial construction, a second classroom was added by carpenter W. Reich and mason August Dieman. The original schoolroom contained the lower grades and the new eastern half was occupied by the older students.
In 1905 the school was referred to as the Lime Kiln School, but in 1924 the Waukesha County school annual listed the name as Quarry School.
Updating occurred over time as lighting progressed from kerosene to electric; heating shifted from wood stoves to a coal stoker and then to an oil furnace; and outhouses were replaced by indoor plumbing in 1950. Yet by the late 1950s teaching standards and, again, population growth made it apparent that a two-room schoolhouse would not be adequate to serve eight grades. In 1960 a newly built “Quarry School” opened its four classrooms, and after 91 years of service, the old Quarry School closed. (The newer Quarry School was replaced by American TV & Appliance in the 1980s.)
1960—School Becomes A Home
The old Quarry School was sold for $7,127 to Waukesha businessman and philanthropist E.B. Shurts on March 1, 1960. Shurts mortgaged the building to Rolland and Mary Buslaff who were custodians for the old and new Quarry schools.
Rolland, Mary, and five-year-old daughter Joy moved just 75 yards across the school’s blacktopped playground to their new home from what had been the Buslaffs’ home for 18 years—the burnt-out shell of the quarry’s horse barn.
Rolland compartmentalized the schoolhouse’s interior with wood paneling, exchanged picture windows for some of the double-hungs, and added four garages and a porch. The eastern classroom became the living space, and the western classroom his metal shop and office. Although his choices do not shine by today’s aesthetic standards, one has to be impressed with the breadth of work performed by a man, near 70 years of age, who had the use of only one good leg due to polio.
Rolland died at age 102 in August 1996 in Milwaukee’s veterans hospital. Mary gave the schoolhouse to daughter Joy and her husband Dan Savin in 2000. But because of Wisconsin’s 36-month gifting rule, the house could have been taken by the state to cover nursing home or medical expenses Mary might have incurred through 2003. Mary died just after her 89th birthday in June 2001, having lived with Joy and Dan in Big Bend for several months.