The Lyons Recorder, in conjunction with the Lyons Redstone Museum, is publishing a series about some of Lyons’ historic structures, all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places and can be found on the Lyons Historic Walking District Tour. This is the first article in the series.
The schoolhouse, currently the location of the Lyons Redstone Museum, was built in 1881 using sandstone donated by town founder Edward S. Lyon. It was one of the first buildings constructed after Lyon arrived in the area.
In 1895, a second story was added using wooden construction. When the wind blew from the west, however, the upper story swayed. In 1902, the school board decided to remodel the building, expanding and reinforcing the top floor. Four 30′ x 40′ classrooms awaited the students at the start of the school year.
The building was used as a school until 1977. Longtime Lyons residents remember sliding down the metal tube fire escape during fire drills and taking school photos in front of the stone archway that used to be directly in front of the school. The archway was dismantled and relocated to its current location in 1993 by local stonemason Andy Maestas.
School’s Out And History’s In
As a new elementary school was being constructed in the mid 1970s, there were questions about what to do with the old building. The Lyons Historical Society began working to save it from the wrecking ball in 1975. A three-way lease between the Lyons Historical Society, the St. Vrain Valley School District, and the Town of Lyons was signed in 1977.
Manuel Weiss, a historian, led the restoration process using funding from a grant. While the building was being restored, Weiss noted that the east side of the building only had four windows, even though early photos show five windows. The missing window remains a mystery.
During the restoration process, the slate chalkboards were removed. Underneath were the original chalkboards that were painted onto the walls. You can still see one student’s math that had been preserved beneath the slate board in the first floor exhibit room.
The grand opening of the museum was July 13, 1979 during the town’s Good Old Days celebration. The museum was officially dedicated in November of that year. The first exhibit in the museum was titled “The Double Gateway – 60 Years in Review – 1885 to 1945.”
The Lyons Redstone Museum was awarded $93,000 for restoration in 2006, and construction began in 2009. The Lyons Historical Society raised an additional $17,000 for the project. Their goal was to repair portions of the building while maintaining its historical integrity. The Lyons Historical Society and Museum Director LaVern Johnson still work to raise funds for restoration and maintenance.
The Lyons Redstone Museum is operational thanks to grants and donations from the Lyons Community Foundation, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, the Town of Lyons, the Saint Vrain Valley School District, and private donors. These funds pay for exhibits, programs, collection management, and museum operation while keeping the Lyons Redstone Museum operating and available to the public.
The Lyons Redstone Museum is open weekends in May, daily June through September, and by appointment during the winter. Admission to the museum is free, with donations always welcome. Follow the Lyons Redstone Museum on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on events.