|City/Town: • Commerce
|Location Class: • School
|Built: • 1921 | Abandoned: • ~1970s
|Status: • Burned Down
|Photojournalist: • Darrell Powers
What came to be known as the Mineral View School House of District No. 19 got this building through the same tragedy that would decades later leave it baren. On March 4th, 1921 a fire broke out in the less than ten years old, $12,000 Mineral View school. The cause of the fire pointed blame at transients intending to sleep in the building were attempting to build a fire when high winds caused it to get out of hand. Nearby farmers worked diligently to extinguish the blaze but to no avail. The school building was insured for a total of $6,800, a little over half of its assessed worth. Students were transferred to Quapaw and Commerce schools until a new building was erected.
Board members A.H. Hagle, Austin Rendel, and William Webber, gathered to discuss plans for a new school building and agreeing on G.B. Kinder as the contractor. The new red brick one-story building was constructed at a cost of $7,200 and located on two acres of land donated by Mrs. William Webber. For a rural school they had many activities such as an annual fair which had about 150-200 attendees each year. A spelling bee, basket suppers, pie socials and even a poultry show.
Closure came in May 1954 as did many other small rural schools over low attendance and new funding requirements. The building was discontinued as a K-12 educational facility but continued to serve the community in different ways. The Elm View 4-H club continued using the building for elections and organizational meetings as well as the Farmers Union. Also held here were holiday parties and community dinners to encourage unity within the small town. It then became abandoned officially around the 1970s and was left to the elements. It became a party spot for local teens, amateur “artists” leaving the building trashed. A fire was started around 2008, presumably by someone partying on the grounds and the building was burned inside and out leaving just a shell of bricks.
Article by AOK Photojournalist Emily Cowan
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