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Historic Central School

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Historic Central School has remained a center of learning in the community for nearly 140 years. This rare architectural gem was designed by architects Foster and Liebbe of Des Moines. When it opened in 1884, the brick schoolhouse contained four classrooms. The west wing, built in 1897, added four more rooms to Central School, which housed grades 1-12. After Lake City High School was built on a separate campus in 1904, Central School remained a grade school until the building was closed in 1980. A dedicated group of volunteers saved Central School, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. These preservationists transformed Central School into a museum to showcase the stories of small-town, rural Iowa through the eyes of those who lived it, from railroaders to farmers to educators and entrepreneurs. Feel like a kid again when you step into the kindergarten classroom, which honors Hester Crosswait, who taught generations of kindergarteners in Lake City. Other classrooms tell the story of Lake City's rich heritage as a medical center and agricultural community. More than a museum, Central School is a cultural center that offers meeting space and hosts an annual lecture series, with topics ranging from Iowa's Carnegie libraries to Iowa's lost history on the Titanic. In 2019, the volunteer board of Central School Preservation created the Preservation Champion Award, which is awarded annually to a community member who understands next generation can only inherit the places we choose to save. We invite you to come visit us at Central School!
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Located in Lakes & Land


In Iowa, sunny days mean endless possibilities. Whether it's a family getaway, an outdoor adventure, or anything in between, we know a place.