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The St. Elmo School House was built in 1882 during the height of the mining boom in Grizzly Gulch. The one-room building also functioned as a community gathering place and church. The single teacher taught first to eighth grade to the children of area miners and town businessmen. By the 1940s, there was only one remaining student so the school was shut down.
The cloakroom is open most days during summer so visitors can peek through Plexiglas into the schoolroom. Although the original furniture was removed, replacements fill the buildings with old desks, a heat diffuser around the stove, books and other typical 1880s school items.
The black boards are original. They are not made of slate. Instead, the “boards” are sheets of canvas attached to wood and painted with a black tarry substance.
In summer, children walked or rode burros to school. During winter, they skied.
The schoolhouse is owned by Buena Vista Heritage. Group tours can be arranged. When BVH had the building restored and raised onto a foundation in 2005, the contractor found piles of old and broken tools and a mummified beaver.
St. Elmo’s public privy is located behind the school.
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