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Restored school to offer students lesson on past

FAIRFIELD — After nearly 80 years of standing idle, the bustle of active students may once again fill the 105-year-old Fairfield District Schoolhouse.

To help increase visitor numbers at the Camp Floyd and Stagecoach Inn State Park, Park Manager Mark Trotter has been working to restore the old school so 21st century students can visit the past.

"We'll invite them out for a day with school like it was taught when Utah was a territory," Trotter said.

The school was built in 1898 by Lehi craftsman Andrew Fjeld with Fairfield bricktender Hans R. Peterson. Classes were held there until 1924 when Alpine School District began busing the students out of Fairfield. In 1977, owner Walter Kershaw donated the school to Utah State Parks and Recreation.

Reopening the school was high on Trotter's do-list when he took over management of the park in January 2001. He has overseen the installation of a water line to service new modern restrooms and to provide running water inside the building. He's directed clean-up projects and re-roofing work.

The ironwork frames for 35 replicas of the old-fashioned original desks are nearly ready, paid for by Wasatch Monumental Iron and the Cedar Valley Landfill and cast by Maca Supply Co. of Springville.

Landfill owner Mel Radmall is paying for the desks — which are costing $500 each just for the ironwork.

"I agreed to do this. My name goes on it," Radmall said. "It's been a lot more involved than we first thought but we're getting there."

Boy scouts in Fairfield will craft and then attach the wooden desk tops and seats, Trotter said. Fairfield resident David Hansen is spearheading the effort and cutting the pattern.

The Fairfield Restoration Fund set up by the townspeople will pay for the wood.

After the desks are finished, the school will be opened for visiting students to experience a school of the past including writing on slate tablets and sitting around an old cast-iron stove in the middle of the one-room schoolhouse.

"I'm still just a little afraid of setting a specific date (for the opening)," Trotter said. "Everything takes longer than you plan."

But when it's all ready, Trotter expects the all-day visits to the school will be very popular.

In addition to the school tours, Trotter has planned a number of other events at the park.

Members of the Utah Civil War Association and the Utah Fife and Drum Corps will visit and set up camp on May 17 wearing period attire.

From June 7-14, tours of the Pony Express Route will be offered along with a parade, a rodeo, stagecoach rides, old-fashioned games, entertainment and fireworks in conjunction with Eagle Mountain's Pony Express Days celebration.

In September, Trotter has invited a group to present a Camp Floyd History Pageant featuring historically important characters such as Porter Rockwell, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, John Carson and Brigham Young.