The old school in Husser has stood for a century. I like old buildings. And they seem even more interesting when they pass the age of one hundred. There is also a deeper connection to the community when the old structure was built from timber that was cut and milled in the area.
I think about children who learned to read their first words, staring at the black chalkboard and fidgeting in their chairs inside the old Husser School. The two-room school stands next to the fire station in rural Tangipahoa Parish in southeastern Louisiana.
Ethan Dunn is president of the Husser Community Organization. The group is trying to raise money to restore the aging structure as a community center. Dunn’s great great grandfather Hypolite Husser built the school in 1921. “The entire building was constructed out of fat pine,” according to Dunn, that was taken out of nearby Zemurray Gardens.
husser school showing its age
But when you look closely at the faded dark green building, you see that it sags. The front corner of the school house has lost its wooden foundation. Dunn points to the corner, “You can see the sill is actually sitting completely on the ground right here.” And that is one of the defects that makes the building unusable in its current condition. The community organization is trying to raise $75,000-100,000 to make repairs and reopen the building to public use.
Old school a victim of consolidation
The Husser School closed in the 1940’s as the local school board began consolidating dozens of small rural schools. With the help of a special collection at the nearby Catholic Church, the community raised the seventy-five dollars needed to buy the building and two acres of land at auction. The school became the Husser Community Center, and its first event was a welcome home celebration for troops returning from World War Two.
a better floor for dancing
It seems the old pine floors from the classroom were not good for the Husser community square dances. “The old floor was so rigid,” Dunn says, “that the dancers could not stomp and slide appropriately enough.” The school got a new floor.
family ties to the old building
Like other long-time residents of Husser, Dunn’s family history is part of the old building. He has a black-and-white picture that shows his grandmother and two of her sisters when they attended the school. Dunn’s grandmother, who just turned ninety, attended the Husser school for four years.
It’s the family connections that motivates Dunn and others to try to save the school and community center. The National Park Service recently designated the Husser School as a national historic landmark. “There’s so much history inside this wall, inside this building, that connects many people together,” Dunn said. The community center was home to big family events like birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. You can follow the restoration progress on the Husser Community Organization’s Facebook page. For information on donating to the restoration fund, visit the Husser Community Organizations website.
tv feature on old husser school
The Husser School and Community Center is located on La Highway 445 next to the Husser Fire Station.