Joe Goebel of Coon Rapids is applying new oil-based white primer and low-gloss, barn-red paint to the Little Red Schoolhouse. The primer and paint were donated by the Sherwin-Williams store in Carroll.<span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em> Daily Times Herald photos by Larry Devine</em></span>
Joe Goebel of Coon Rapids is applying new oil-based white primer and low-gloss, barn-red paint to the Little Red Schoolhouse. The primer and paint were donated by the Sherwin-Williams store in Carroll. Daily Times Herald photos by Larry Devine
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Joe Goebel is striving for top marks in his schoolwork.

Goebel, of Coon Rapids, is using his skills to turn back the clock 141 years on the Little Red Schoolhouse in Graham Park.

He’s replacing much original, worn-out wood on the building and applying primer and a new coat of low-gloss, barn-red paint to the entire structure.

He’s trying to return the one-room schoolhouse to its original glory. The school was built in 1871 and served as the Maple River Center Schoolhouse, west of Carroll.  

To preserve the schoolhouse, Carroll Kiwanis Club moved it in 1965 to Graham Park, where it has been a centerpiece attraction and now is maintained by the Carroll County Historical Society.

Supporting the schoolhouse project, Bob and Sheila Everhart, recording artists for the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C., will perform their “Traveling Museum of Music” at the Carroll Recreation Center at 7 p.m. Friday.  

The Everharts’ program spotlights the Old Time Country-Bluegrass-Folk Music of early settlers. This performance is sponsored by the Historical Society for preservation of the schoolhouse.

The Everharts say of performances such as the fundraiser for the Carroll schoolhouse restoration, “We actually ‘created’ it as a means for museums and historical societies to raise money for their various projects, and in the museum world, there is a never-ending need as buildings grow older, the economy gets slower, and the electronic communication age gets more demanding.”

Tickets for the Everharts’ Carroll show are available for $10 at Good News Bookstore in Carroll or at the door.  For more information, call 712-792-4615 or e-mail

Goebel, who has custom-woodworking and construction-work credentials, estimates he’ll total 30 replacing siding and 30 to 50 hours painting.  He spent the first weeks of the project removing worn-out wood and caulking seams and end pieces. He says he’s replaced about 20 percent of the siding.

“There’s a fair amount of dry, rotted wood along the bottom edge from the dirt and water hitting the ground and splashing up,” he says.

“But for being 140 years old, it’s in great shape,” Goebel says of the school. “You can tell the cedar siding has really worn down over that time. It’s almost half as thick as the new siding. It’s really weathered down.”

The new cedar lap siding — thicker on the bottom edge than on top — will help in water dispersion.

Goebel didn’t just discard all the old wood. He tried to make use of as much as he could, cutting some into shorter pieces and reattaching them.

Goebel, working on the project part time, says he should finish painting in a couple of weeks. The Sherwin-Williams store in Carroll donated the oil-based white primer and barn-red, low-gloss paint for the project.

Goebel notes his work has uncovered a bit of history. In renailing on the building, ails he removed many square, wedge-shaped nails that no longer had holding power. He believes the square nails were original to when the school was built.

“In the 1870s,” he says, “I’m not sure these would have been machine-made square nails or if they would have been hand-pounded. In the early 1800s, nails were hand-pounded usually by young slave labor.”

Work on the schoolhouse will resume next spring when the inside will be repainted, according to Carroll County Historical Society president Barb Hackfort. The Historical Society will hire the inside repainting. Goebel also will replace windows in the school.

“For its age, the school is in really good shape,” Goebel says, but when the project is completed, he adds, it school “should be in good shape for many years.”

Goebel has served as Historical Society treasurer in past years and has been a volunteer. This is his second recent project for the Historical Society in Graham Park. Last year he reroofed the 1850s fur trapper’s log cabin. At that time Historical Society members then talked about restoring the schoolhouse.