Stage curtain reunited with old schoolhouse

The Mennonite Heritage and Agriculture Museum in Goessel hosted the homecoming of the South Bloomfield stage curtain on the museum grounds Aug 6. At the same time, there was a reunion of former students who attended this one-room schoolhouse. Nine former students, one former school board member and Art Krievins, are the individuals in the photo. Krievins (back row, in dark shirt) is the one who donated the South Bloomfield stage curtain back to its original home. Also attending were Krievins’ son and grandson, spouses of former students, friends and the just plain curious.Some 63 years after closing its doors, the former South Bloomfield school building has been reunited with the stage curtain that had made its home in the one-room school in a past era.

The Mennonite Heritage and Agriculture Museum in Goessel hosted the homecoming of the stage curtain Aug. 6 at the South Bloom­field school, which rests today on the museum grounds.

According to museum director Fern Bartel, the stage curtain was used at the South Bloomfield one-room school when the school was in use as a grade school, hosting first through eighth.

The structure was located originally two miles west and a little south of Goessel in McPherson County. It was moved to the museum in 1983 and fixed up.

When the school disbanded in 1954, patrons organized an auction to sell the things inside the school, such as the desk, books, stove, shelves and the stage curtain.

Art Krievins, being a teacher, heard about the auction and went to see what he could buy.

“Well, he came home with the curtain for the large bid of one quarter,” Bartel said. “He rolled it out and was surprised to see the wonderful colors. He put it up in his basement to hide a blank wall.”

Krievins told Bartel he bought the curtain as a large canvas to do painting projects on, or cut up and put over his tomatoes or something else, Bartel said.

In addition, the family rolled the curtain up whenever they were going to have home movie night, and took it down again when the movie was over, she added.

Bartel said when the couple decided in 2016 to move into a nursing home in Newton, they sold their house but donated the South Bloom­field stage curtain to the museum “so we could have a coming home party at the school.”

Bartel said she doesn’t know when the school purchased the curtain, but one of the striking things about it is it’s adorned with signs advertising area businesses.

“It is a very professional paint job, very well done— definitely not a homemade thing,” she said.

The museum has another stage curtain that was used at the high school, and it looks a lot like the South Bloomfield curtain.

“It was done for the class of 1936 or 1937, or maybe they commissioned it and donated it to the high school,” Bartel said. “It has a lot of ads on it also. We don’t know why, but that’s what they did back then.”

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