Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

The Old Stone Schoolhouse in Springfield


“…the handiwork on that building – during those times – defies description.”

-Aug Blanchat

We’ve talked many times about the old Springfield School our social media groups and how it was built in 1889 by the Swiss Stonemason Joseph Blanchat.   This is an update to the previous blog.  The building served as the elementary and the high school in Springfield until the Eastside School was built in 1920.  The Eastside school building stood where the Southeast Colorado Hospital now stands.  

 Bill Stoner wrote a great piece on the Blanchat history which is available on this blog if you click here.   

I also have been in conversations with Aug Blanchat the great grandson of the elder Blanchat.  Aug is compiling a history of “stonecutters” in his family and I can’t wait to read it.   Money for the school was borrowed to finance the building of the school.  It financed by a Chicago IL bank per the ad below.

notice of new loan on springfield schoolhouse
Notice of new loan on Springfield schoolhouse.  Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · 24 Aug 1889.

Some probably already know this, but  when you see the 7s after the listing for Springfield school, it’s just shorthand for the interest rate that the bonds pay. “5s” is short for “fives”, which is short for “bonds paying a five percent coupon rate”; “7s” is short for “sevens”, which is short for “bonds paying a seven percent coupon rate”.

This terminology is still in use; when a company has more than one series of bonds outstanding, one way of distinguishing them is to refer to them as “5s” for the five percenters and “7s” for the seven percenters.”


Aug Blanchat, tells us,  “My granddad was raised near Walsh . More importantly his dad Joseph, my Great Grandad)  was born in Undervelier, Switzerland. He was a blacksmith and stone mason – he taught my Grandpa the same trade – the handiwork on that building – during those times – defies description. Blanchat, was a stone cutter and mason. he and others built the schoolhouse in Springfield.”

augblanchet touching school his great grandpa built
Aug Blanchet touching school his great grandpa helped build in 1889.

This whole conversation got started an introduction from a comment on my old technology blog. 

aug blanchat comment

When I was in elementary we played football and baseball in the area east of the old school house all the time.  As a kid I never noticed or appreciated the amazing stonework of this building.  Here is another view of said stonework on the Springfield School house. Photo is courtesy of Aug Blanchat. 

Stonework on Springfield School house built in 1889.

Aug went on to say, “I believe it was Ike Osteen who was more than glad to tell me about the schoolhouse – wasn’t he the Baca county historian (that was in 1993)?   My G- Grandpa Joseph Blanchat resided near Walsh and raised several sons who were stone masons into their eighties (who also may be in the photograph)”

After it was closed as a school it was used as a Masonic Lodge. On one of our Facebook groups, Michelle Hebberd said, “This was the Masonic Lodge for many years. The Masons, Eastern Star, and Rainbow Girls were held there.  I remember beautiful wooden furniture, nice dishes, great friendships, dressing up in pretty dresses, wonderful mentors who tried to guide young “ladies.” I’m so very thankful for the relationships formed in that strong building. “

One of the pleasures of moderating this blog is getting to speak with many wonderful people connected to Baca County.  Thanks Aug.  I look forward to more discussion on this building.  

Here are few news items about some of the educators who walked through the doors the School from the 1897 Springfield Herald. These names will be familiar to many in Baca County.

county institute at the springfield school july 23 1897
Springfield, Herald, July 23, 1897
Baca county teachers institure August 6 1897
Springfield Herald, August 6, 1897
Teaching certificates awarded. Springfield Herald Sept 3 1897.
Teaching certificates awarded. Springfield Herald Sept 3 1897.

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