THE BADER SCHOOL
by Suzanne Webel
Seasoned real estate agents claim that it's not a matter of whether people who move to the mountains come back down, but when. John Bader arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1866, but within the year he had purchased farm land along Left Hand Creek southwest of Table Mountain.
Just a few years before, the First Colorado Territorial Legislature had passed new laws establishing counties and empowering the counties to form Common School districts. Families with the most children usually donated land for a school, but they had to prove that a minimum of ten children between the ages of five to 21 years lived in the proposed area.
So, in 1867, Bader donated a portion of his land for a school. The original wooden structure (photo unavailable) encompassed all of approximately 200 square feet. By 1887, demand for a larger building and fluctuations in the district boundaries resulted in the spacious "new" 600-square-foot Bader School being built at the corner of Oxford Road and 41st Street (the original building, approximately a quarter of a mile to the east, was converted to a granary). The new school had walls 18 inches thick made of local sandstone. Above the door, a cut stone plaque still proclaims proudly, "School District 13, 1887" ( see photo ).
August Behrmann's family came to Haystack Mountain in 1894, writes local historian Anne Dyni (1). "Folks had warned his father not to choose that location because it was too close to the volcano. They were convinced that Haystack was just waiting to erupt. The Behrmanns were not easily intimidated, however, and they settled permanently along Left Hand Creek. August was seven years old the year they arrived, old enough to enroll in the Bader School nearby. He had been born the same year the new school was built." It was a good thing the school had been built sturdily; in May of 1894 it withstood a torrential flood from Left Hand Creek. The schoolyard was inundated with silt and debris, and the playing fields were temporarily moved to higher ground on the Getman farm across the road.
Alice Ochs was a member of the last first grade class to enter the Bader School. During the summer, her family lived on their ranch above the Heils in the foothills above Left Hand Creek. Winters brought them down to the plains, where they lived in a different location each year. Alice recalls that some of the kids walked to school, while others rode their ponies. Her pony was particularly mischievous; no matter how carefully she tried to tie him up to the fence with all the other horses, by noon he'd have untied the knot and run home, leaving Alice to hitch a ride with someone else or walk home by herself at the end of the day.
At its peak, around 1893, 33 pupils crowded into the Bader School. But by 1948, enrollment had dropped to 13 students. District members voted to close the school and transfer the students to Ryssby school, a few miles to the northeast. The Bader School underwent extensive remodeling and additions in the 1970's. Like many of the early schools, it is currently a residence. But the original stone structure is still very much in evidence, bearing testimony to more than a century of local history.
(1) Dyni, Anne Quinby. Back to the Basics, The Frontier Schools of Boulder County, Colorado, 1860-1960.
Credit Lines for photos: Carnegie Branch Library for Local History, Boulder Historical Society Collection.