Historic Hindsight: The cycle of schools in Severance
March 11, 2018
The town of Severance, nestled between Eaton and Timnath, has gone from a small town to a booming town with potential to grow even further. This rapid growth created a need for schools located within town instead of busing children to nearby Windsor or Eaton.
In response, the Severance Middle School was built in 2009, followed shortly by Range View Elementary. Arrangements are being made to build a new high school to help with the growth in population of this area. However, this is not the first time in Severance's 134 year history that schools have existed within town. From February 1885 until October 1959, School District 52 served the families within Severance's boundaries. During its 74-year tenure, children within the district were taught in two different buildings, first on the corner of Weld County roads 23 and 74, and later in a building on the west side of Weld 23.
The building located at the intersection of Weld roads 23 and 74 was constructed in 1885 and served as the schoolhouse for Severance from 1885 to 1908. This little building, today used for community events, once had a bell tower that was paid for by a fundraiser in 1902. In its first year, District 52 had a total of 19 students. By 1903, the district served about 100 students, and town officials realized a larger building would be required to accommodate the growing population and district boundaries. Land was purchased on the west side of Weld 23 by John Law, a new school was built, and classes relocated in March 1908.
The student population continued to grow, reaching 120 students by 1920. However, as Severance was located miles away from the larger towns in northern Colorado where many teachers lived, it became difficult to find families to house and feed the teachers for their terms.
Staying at the hotel in town became pricey. To entice more teachers to stay, a teacherage was built on the east side of Weld 23. After its completion, teachers who wished to stay in the building would pay a small rent and could simply walk across the road to teach, rather than travel for miles. The peak of student attendance was in 1924 with 202 students enrolled in District 52.
As surrounding towns grew, Severance not only lost businesses but also its population as larger cities offered more opportunities and amenities. District 52 was officially dissolved on Oct. 18, 1959, moving some students into the Eaton Re-2 district and others into the Windsor-Severance Re-4 district. The 1908 school building was still used to teach a small number of students until 1961 when the building officially closed. The building was razed in 1964. Today the land where the 1908 school stood is now the Lakeview neighborhood. The teacherage still stands as a private residence. It seems Severance won't be dying off anytime soon though; the schools currently serve about 1,100 students. Range View Elementary, Severance Middle, and soon the new high school will continue to educate the children of Severance serving future generations of Weld County for years to come.
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— Katalyn Lutkin is an archives assistant for the Greeley History Museum.