An Historic Polk County School Building

About Lamar   |   Building History   |   Building Restoration   |   Home

History of Lamar

Lamar in 1905 The history of Lamar School intertwines with the history of Lamar, once a thriving community on the historic Clam Falls Trail. At present, Lamar School is one of only eleven sites in Polk County listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the third property in the county to receive that distinction on March 1, 1982, and is so far the only county schoolhouse on the register. The original designation papers describe Lamar as a “principal landmark” and “unifying social force.” Ten standards from the Secretary of the Interior which address the architectural, cultural, and historic properties of the building and its surroundings are required in order to maintain historic designation.

Lamar, located in St. Croix Township, is one of 144 schoolhouses that dotted the county in the early 1900s. More that half have been dismantled or demolished. Many have been converted for private use. Only a handful remain as part of our public legacy.

Lamar in 1910

The sturdy craftsman-style building with its Italianate tower has been a landmark since 1905. It was a one-room school until 1910 when a second room was added on the south. Originally, the school stood at ground level and an open porch graced the entrance. In 1926, the school was lifted and set on a block foundation. The enclosed entry-way with the wide stairwell was added. Mr. Ehrman Ferris provided the drawings and did the work. His daughter, Margaret Hendrickson, who attended Lamar School from 1922 to 1930 and then boarded in Saint Croix for high school, recalls her father sitting at the kitchen table with an array of papers spread around him as he worked on the design.

Lamar School is the sole survivor of what was once a thriving community that included a creamery, post office, church, general store, charcoal kiln, brickyard, and many farms. The potato industry was central to the economy, and school was dismissed for three weeks each September so children could help with the harvest. When the railroad was built at the turn of the century, the center of commerce moved to Centuria and the historic community of Lamar began a gradual decline.

Lamar Creamery
Lamar Creamery

Lamar Co-operative Creamery circa 1905.  According to oral tradition, Lamar is named in honor of an Ojibway Chief who died in battle on the site. Ojibway Priest Father Gordon blessed Lamar in the 1920s. His nephew, also, Father Gordon, renewed that blessing at the centennial of Lamar in 2005.

Lamar Chapel
The Lamar Chapel stood just east of the present day Lamar School and was shared by the Presbyterians and Lutherans.  For Lutherans, it was an off-shoot of Bethesda at Sand Lake.  Eventually, Lamar Lutherans joined with Centuria to build Fristad Lutheran Church. 

1488 200th Street, P.O. Box 344, Saint Croix Falls, WI 54024