The Ford schoolhouse

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Winter and early spring has always been the time North Forkers plan the summerís work, anticipate Forest Service and Park activities, and gossip. In recent years, the advent of socia media and other means of communication has really increased these activities, even on remote Trail Creek.

Big topic recently has been the Ford schoolhouse, or Funk cabin. The cabin was built on private land and served as a local school from the early years of the 20th century until World War II. If my memory is correct, the last teacher was Ruth Cohn and her granddaughter, Naomi Gaffany Holland, was a student. After World War II there were several owners, among them George Rockwell and I think Dan Waltz, and their wives. Last private owners were the Funk family who sold it to the Forest Service.

It has now been abandoned for many years and is in poor condition today. At one point the NFIA wanted to move it to the site of Sondreson Hall to be used as a community museum. This effort was started due to fear that it might be taken out in a flood, because the river had been cutting the bank closer and closer to the building. Forest officials said they had studied the geology and believed it was safe from the river, and at some point they would restore it and add it to their rental program. Near neighbor Ray Hart, a close friend of the Funks, also approached the Forest Service. They turned him down also.

All of this activity took place several years ago and the issue was dormant until this winter.

Somehow folks heard that the Forest Service was interested in disposing of the building. NFIA and NFPA representatives began discussing pros and cons, and then we heard that the Polebridge Merc was also interested in the old school. Adding spice to the discussion, information was passed around (by email, no less) that it would cost an estimated $10,000 and would entail a ton of paperwork. Rumor added that the USFS insisted it be placed facing the same direction, since the windows were positioned to give as much light as possible to the interior.

I have not heard any official word about any of this. It was not mentioned at the Winter Interlocal.

Personally, I favor saving this historic building. My preference would be for it to be owned by the community. Converting it to a commercial use would be better than losing it, but would not be my choice. I think we should get Forest Service folks to come up and tell us the real options. Then we should have open meetings to decide what we should do as a community. Anything less is just gossip and serves no purpose.

What do you think?

Larry Wilsonís North Fork Views column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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