Hetland School

Farm Forum

There’s an old school in Hetland that’s worth a closer look.

It really is “old school.”

No longer in use and falling apart, it’s still are marvel to behold.

The playground equipment there is literally “old school.”

In the days before legal law suits galore, the equipment could be dangerous, but I don’t recall of anyone ever getting seriously hurt, or of schools being sued.

At Hetland there are the usual collection of vintage playground equipment.

There’s a merry-go-round, a big slide, a teeter-totter and a galvanized iron swing set with its wind-driven clanging chains.

The wood-frame two-story school was built in 1904. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside, but unfortunately not available for public viewing, are seven classrooms and an unusual, unique and uncharacteristic second-floor gymnasium where Hetland teams once played its basketball games.

The gym was an addition to the school in 1920 when game scores seldom exceeded 20 points. It was built at a cost of $4,000. The side and end lines of its second-floor court were so close to the walls that there was no place for spectators.

So a narrow balcony just wide enough for a row of twenty-five or thirty folding chairs was hung from the ceiling of the 25 by 50 foot court. To get to those raised spectator seats, a ladder was lowered before the game for the convenience of fans.

When the game commenced, the ladder was raised up out of play and was not lowered again until half time except for extreme emergencies. I suppose spectators who had need to visit the “necessarium” raised a hand and the referee called a technical timeout, or something.

The old maple floor is still there, although rapidly deteriorating. Records show that the Hetland Athletic Association agreed in 1920 to pay for one-half of that floor’s cost, “up to $100.”

Dressing rooms for players were nearby classrooms. There were no showers, of course, and in fact, no indoor plumbing anywhere in the building until well into the 1920s.

Part of the roof over the basketball court is slanted, so shooters could not get much of an arc to their two-handed efforts. The regular roof over the rest of the floor is only 14 feet high.

Radiators are located at each end of the court near the baskets, as are two large windows. Undoubtedly this presented a somewhat dangerous situation for players until iron bars were welded over the windows by Hetland blacksmith Dale Anderson.

The old school in Hetland once had an enrollment of 130. It was closed in 1971.

The playground equipment on the school grounds was provided by Hetland citizens, including generous gifts from the Hetland American Legion.

Write the author at cfcecil@swiftel.net.