Reunion to revive school memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

School reunions can be based on a specific year of graduation or for everyone who has ever attended a particular school. These reunions are also based on high school, colleges and universities, vocational institutions, and even rural schools. And on Saturday, Aug. 19, starting at 3 p.m., an all-school reunion will be held at Bancroft Bay City Park (Coney Island), for anyone who attended Hammer School.

This once very rural school was once known officially as District 107. It was located on the very south edge of Bancroft Township. Many rural schools soon became better known by a name based on a nearby family, geographic landmark, or on a neighborhood title. For this school the name was based on the Hammer family name which was the designation also given to the road in front of the building. This now paved road still serves as the border between Bancroft and Albert Lea townships.

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This school district was organized in 1878 and eventually had a teacher who was responsible for the education of students in eight grades.

In the late 1940s, after the end of World War II, the former farmland to the north of the Goose Creek marshland soon became a residential area. What evolved into the Hammer Addition near the airport and along North Bridge Avenue was incorporated into the city of Albert Lea.

By 1951 the white school building at the corner of North Bridge Avenue and Hammer Road was part of the Albert Lea district. It operated as a grade school and was the only rural educational facility to ever be included within the city limits. That year there were 48 students in grades one through six being taught by two teachers. After the sixth grade the students went to Albert Lea Junior High School.

The first floor of the school consisted of two classrooms and a small library. The basement was used for a student lunchroom and as a meeting place for several organizations, including the school’s Mothers’ Club.

About 1959 this school ceased operations. Then the building was used by School District 241 for storage and as a locker facility for nearby Hammer Athletic Field. Then the building which had been used as a rural school for just over eight decades was demolished.

This school, road, neighborhood residential area and athletic field were all named for a Scandinavian immigrant named Ole A. Hammer. He was born in Norway during 1842 and came to the U.S. as a youth. Hammer became an agent for the Minneapolis and St. Louis and later the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railroads. He became a farmer during 1885 in the northern part of Albert Lea Township, not far from the school’s location. For 25 years he was the clerk for School District 107. Hammer also served for 14 years on the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners, with four of those years as chairman.

Ole A. Hammer died on Feb. 19, 1928, and is buried in the cemetery next to Central Freeborn Lutheran Church.

An invitation has been extended to anyone who attended the Hammer School to being a picnic basket, old photos and memories to the reunion on Saturday afternoon.

&8221;Conversation will be the entertainment,&8221; Dick Herfindahl said. He’s a former student and graduate of this school named for his great-grandfather.

Anyone with questions or suggestions can call Herfindahl at 373-9669.