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Historic school set to be demolished

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St Joseph School

CADOTT (WQOW) - Any day now, St. Joseph school in Cadott is coming down and bringing with it 102 years of memories. In 1919, on Easter Sunday, the St. Rose of Lima parish decided to build this school.

"As populations grew and families moved in, there seemed to be a need for a school," said All Saints Catholic Parish Deacon, Ned Willkom.

Willkom said in the early days, the Sisters lived in the building, and as transportation was not as accessible as it is today, some students lived there as well.

"In fact my mother was one of those early boarders back in the 1930's when kids from the country side would stay on the third floor with the Sisters and on the weekends they would go home," he said.

Throughout its history, the school has evolved. At its peak, more than 200 students attended. Eventually, the Sisters stopped being the instructors. Most recently, St. Joseph went from educating first through eighth grades to becoming an early childhood education center.

Willkom graduated from St. Joseph in 1968 and said his fondest memories are of the Sisters.

"I remember of course the good food, but I remember the good Sisters and so I remember them fondly for the most part," he recalled.

But after a tornado damaged the building last summer, the school was deemed more of a liability than it was useful; even the flagpole was lost.

"It may be bittersweet, but it's the practical matter and just like the church itself we're always looking forward," Willkom said.

Willkom said the cross above the front door will be saved, along with the 1919 cornerstone. And, for anyone with fond memories in the school, some bricks will be saved and sold in a future school fundraiser.

The school closed its doors but still exists. In 2013, it merged with St. Josephs in Boyd, leaving behind the building now awaiting its demolition. But while this piece of Cadott history is going away, it will carry on in the memories of the hundreds that walked its halls.

After its demolition, the space will be used as a parking lot for St. Rose of Lima church.

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Felicity Bosk

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