While crisscrossing the rural county highways and dirt roads of Central Iowa, our weekend explorations landed us in the town of Popejoy. With a population last recorded at a mere 70, this little town is barely hanging on.
After spending hours attempting to research this building, I reached out to one of my favorite Abandoned Groups online. Besides a small paragraph regarding consolidation of districts, not a scrap of information was out there regarding this fairly large building.
The story of this school would eventually emerge from an unlikely source; a small cookbook containing a history of Popejoy. In late spring of 1959, the last class of students would graduate from it’s halls. With only a few remaining classes of grades 3 through 8, the school would hold out until May of 1983 when its halls finally fell silent for good.
During the next year, the school building and bus barn were sold at an auction to the Schutt family but in 1989, the buildings returned to the possession Franklin county for back taxes. The school would sit quiet and desolate until December of 1993 when it fell into new hands. Little is known about what happened during this ownership until it changed hands yet again in the winter of 1995/96 when a businessman from Iowa falls bought it to be used as a foundry making outdoor electric lamp posts. Based on the condition of the school, it doesn’t seem likely that these plans ever took off.
According to the history documented in this little cookbook, virtually all papers, records and pictures were simply discarded upon the schools closing in 1983. The only remains are the senior class pictures and a few trophies that are safely displayed at the city hall.
It is so hard to believe that a building as important in the upbringing of children as a school could be so completely erased from existence. This school truly only remains alive through the memories of people that have ties to this little town and to those that care to read its history in a simple cookbook.