Home & Yard

Herald Journal Publishing, Inc. PO Box 129 Winsted, MN 55395 April 4, 2016 PRESORT STANDARD ECRWSS U. S. POSTAGE PAID Herald Journal Publishing Inc. Postal Customer HOME & YARD Home & Yard page 1-2, 10 Classifieds page 3-7 Going Out page 8-9 Old Lake Ida schoolhouse to see new life as ‘a place of connection and healing’ CAREY KEAVY Correspondent The old Lake Ida schoolhouse hasn’t been used for decades, but a local woman hopes to give the building a new purpose through a major remodeling effort. Susie Bjorklund has a heart for those who need comfort. For the past 16 years, her life has been enriched by those she has helped through Freedom Farm, the therapeutic horse-riding facility she founded in Waverly. The remodeling of the Lake Ida schoolhouse will provide more space for the organization. Although the plans include keeping some of the historic appearance of the structure where possible, the renovation isn’t a complete “historic rehab,” and there are no requirments to keep any percentage of the original structure intact. An earlier addition that had fallen into disrepair was demolished, and a new addition was added. The facility will have a modern interior, and will feature a kitchen for gatherings. The exterior of the addition will also have a more modern appearance. Most of the construction work was completed by John Kraemer & Sons, an award-winning building and remodeling firm based in Edina. A history of helping Originally, this organization began as an assistance project for special needs adults and children, but in the recent past, it has expanded into a place where veterans and troubled teens find solace through both riding and volunteering their time to help with the therapeutic program. Bjorklund has always had a passion for helping people, and has seen many of those in her program make great strides in their lives. Teens and veterans struggling with depression, anxi- ety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other issues have been able to find a new purpose and joy. “Students that are just completely not on track to graduate and really so desperately hopeless are now on track to graduating. But, most importantly, it’s their mental health, and they’re having some joy in their lives,” Bjorklund said. Students can come to Freedom Farm after school to complete their homework, and then make their way to the stables to volunteer. Bjorklund has witnessed what she calls the “circle of love,” when veterans help the teens, and in turn, the teens help special needs participants. Bjorklund’s programs have been very successful, and many of those who participate enjoy each other’s company. They enjoy meeting for coffee and chatting in the Freedom Farm office, which can be less than ideal with limited space and increased noise levels as people mingle. Space needed Bjorklund quickly realized that she would need to create a space for the teens, veterans, and families to have a place of their own to spend time together. It was because of that need, she began to pursue learning more about an old abandoned schoolhouse on Lake Ida, which is near her property. The Lake Ida schoolhouse was in use from 1860 to 1972, and many locals attended school there while growing up. After it became inactive, it was owned by Wright County, and was unused for many years. Bjorklund knew in her heart that one day she would renovate the old schoolhouse, but says she just didn’t know why or when. Meanwhile, this beautiful historic landmark sat deteriorating, and couldn’t be sold. After contacting the proper Remodeling of the old Lake Ida Schoolhouse is not only updating the original structure but a connected, larger addition. channels, Bjorklund was able to secure a 99-year lease from Wright County, and began renovating the historic building. This extensive revamp ranged from replacing the old well to gutting and replacing electrical systems. Remodeling is now nearly 75 percent complete, and has been accomplished through donations from various businesses and individuals. Bjorklund said that they still need about $75,000 to complete the renovations, and are accepting donations through the Freedom Farm website, www. freedomfarmmn.org. Bjorklund is also looking for any photos of the original schoolhouse when it was in use, as she hopes to post these photos in the building upon completion. Bjorklund said her dream is that the Lake Ida schoolhouse can be a place of connection and healing for all involved. She is hoping for community involvement in any way possible. “This is love, people! This is what we need,” she said. The old Lake Ida school is being renovated to provide space for teens, veterans, and families in need. SUBMITTED PHOTO Carpet Cleaning • Residue-free • Upholstery • Area Rugs • Odor Removal Safe for Kids & Pets CleanSpaceMN.com Suzie Bjorklund has been renovating the former Lake Ida schoolhouse using donations from the community. SUBMITTED PHOTO Remodeling of the former Lake Ida schoolhouse is about 75 percent complete. SUBMITTED PHOTO 763-227-8898