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ROCK BLUFFS – The money came in and the roof went on.

A fundraising effort to put a new roof on the historic Rock Bluffs School was successful, according to Margo Prentiss, curator of the Cass County Historical Society.

In fact, it took only one day recently for removing the old roof and putting the new one on, she said.

The society announced in January the need to raise funds to replace the 30-year-old roof. According to Prentiss, shingles had been falling off and there was also water leakage into the interior, she said. Enough funds were raised to pay for the $6,300 project, she said.

The long vacant school that’s located on top of a hill east of Beaver Lake was the first institution in Cass County to offer secondary-level education.

It began as the Naomi Institute, a two-story private school in 1870 and financed by Professor Joseph Diven Patterson. It was damaged by a fire in late December of 1871, but repairs were made quickly and students did not miss a single day of class after their holiday break, according to Prentiss.

Unfortunately, Patterson never recovered financially from that fire and the institute closed in 1872.

It was purchased from Patterson and reopened as a public school named Rock Bluffs.

The second-level story was destroyed sometime in the mid-1890s possibly from a fire or heavy windstorm.

The school’s soft, red brick exterior was made at a nearby brickyard and over the years students carved their names and dates in the brick, which are still there.

The school closed after the class of 1969 and the building was donated to the historical society two years later. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Occasionally the historical society hosts open house tours of the building. The next one is Sunday, July 21, from 2 to 4 p.m., Prentiss said.

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