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Fonder School

Some early writings hold that Miriam Fonder started the Fonder School in her home in 1861. While that is partly true, the date appears to be wrong. In 1861, Miriam Donegan immigrated to Idaho Springs, Colorado from Iowa. She married Hubert Fonder on the 26th of October in Clear Creek County and moved to Douglas County in December of 1865, following Hubert’s discharge from military service. It was only afterward that she started the Fonder School in her home. Soon, a log schoolhouse was built down on Cherry Creek. Students came from all around the area, including Pine Grove, which is now Parker. This school became District # 8. The log structure burned in 1884 and was replaced with a more durable structure made of Rhyolite lava stone, quarried from the Plateau Quarry about seven miles west of the school site. The stone was hauled to the site by oxen belonging to David McMurdo, a local rancher.


The school building had a well for water located to the west, and blackboards lined the walls. Kerosene lamps provided artificial light and a pot-bellied stove provided warmth on cold days. In the early days the windows had shutters, probably to provide protection from Indian attacks, which were numerous. The one-room school had a raised stage platform where the teacher’s desk was placed to provide a commanding view. It could also serve as a place for artful performances. Outside the building was a horse barn which was used to shelter animals the children rode to school, and the boys’ and girls’ outhouses.


The school house was the center of many social events during the early years, and accommodated various religious activities, club meetings, political meetings and dances. It was the first meeting place for the Fonder Grange in 1875.


The school remained in business until it closed in 1949. Its last teacher was Norma Gartrell, a long-time Parker resident. After the school closed, it was used for storage and as a barn. In the early 1970s the building was restored by its owner, then the South Suburban Water & Sanitation District, now the Pinery Water and Waste Water District. At that time an addition to the structure was added for increased office space.


Information for this update, by Larry T. Smith, came from Douglas County by Josephine Lowell Marr, Our Heritage by the Douglas County Historical Society, and A Guide to Historic Sites in Parker by F. B. McLaughlin.


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