The first public school of De Smet was built in 1880 by the citizens. They not only furnished the materials but actually did the work. The school house was erected at the corner of Loftus Avenue and Second Street. In later years, it was moved to Third Street.
When the first school no longer was operated it was purchased by E. F. Barrows for $300. It was later sold to L. G. Huntley, who remodeled it into a home in 1885. The first school was then a private residence and lived in by several families for many years. In the process of redecorating the interior, owners found the original blackboards under layers of wallpaper!
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society purchased the home in 1999 and moved the school to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society grounds. Through donations and grants the school has been restored to the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
A quote from The Long Winter
“The first time Laura saw the schoolhouse with her sister, Carrie, was on their way to school. She described it as a building standing all by itself. It had windows on each side, a stovepipe that wasn’t being used at the time and a boarded-in entry. All the desks were patent desks, made of wood varnished as smooth as glass and had black iron feet. A large heating stove stood in the middle of the room.”