Heart of Louisiana: Husser Community School

Saving the old Husser school house
Published: Jan. 16, 2022 at 10:43 AM CST
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TANGIPAHOA PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The old green school house was built in 1921 to serve the children of the tiny community of Husser in Tangipahoa Parish.

It’s where great ancestors learned how to read and write, and it was the site of important family gatherings. There are now efforts to save the old Husser School.

Nearly a century ago, the bell atop the school called children to school in the small Tangipahoa Parish community of Husser. Ethan Dunn is head of the Husser community organization that’s trying to save the 100-year-old school building.

“In 1920-ish, my great-great-grandfather Hypolite Husser Jr., the post master’s son, was commissioned by the school board to construct this school, the Husser School,” said Dunn.

Many longtime families have a connection to the old school.

“My grandmother just turned 90. She and two of her sisters attended school here for four or five years. My grandmother only went to school here through fourth grade,” added Dunn.

By the 1940s, the school closed due to consolidation but the town rallied to buy the property at auction and turned it into a community center. They got help from the local Catholic priest.

“He took it upon himself to ask for a special second collection, one Sunday during mass, specifically to raise money, to pay the note, to obtain the schoolhouse from the school board. And in one Sunday, they raised all $75 for this building, plus the two acres,” explained Dunn.

They also had to replace some of the old classroom flooring. It wasn’t ideal for square dancing.

“The old floor was so rigid that the dancers could not stomp and slide appropriately enough and they refused to have another square dance here until the floor was fixed,” noted Dunn.

Now the community organization needs to raise at least $75,000 for repairs.

“The entire building was constructed out of fat pine, taken out of Zemurray Gardens here in Loranger, right next to us,” pointed out Dunn.

That old pine wood is showing signs of decay. Some of the old logs that support the building are failing.

“You can see this sill is actually sitting completely on the ground right here,” described Dunn.

And there are some leaks and broken windows that need to be fixed before the community center can reopen.

Why should people care about saving old buildings like this? You’ve done the research. You’re on a crusade to save it. Why is it important?

“There’s so much history inside this wall, inside this building that connects many people together, whether they are related or not. I can’t tell you how many, how many people have come to me and said, ‘I had my 16th birthday party there.’ ‘My grandparents had their 50th anniversary party there.’ ‘Oh, we got married there.’ Probably one of the most prized things that we have received is our National Historic Landmark plaque, so just kind of outlines a simple history,” answered Dunn.

The community group has already done its research and got national recognition for the old school house. Now it has to convince others that it’s worth donating money again, to save it.

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