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'We knew this day would come': 115-year-old Nome Schoolhouse reopens

The 115-year-old Nome schoolhouse is reopening after a 3-year project to restore the rundown building, spearheaded by Chris Armbrust and Teresa Perleberg.

Nome Schoolhouse reopened
Before and after of the Nome Schoolhouse after a 3-year renovation project.

NOME, N.D. — It's now official. The old Nome, North Dakota school house that was nearly falling apart has a new life.

All those who ever doubted the two women behind the project, can watch the doors open to a new event center and fiber arts business in the heart of of town. It took more than a million dollars and years of work to prove the skeptics wrong.

It's not often a ribbon cutting attracts an entire town, but when the American Legion from the Peterson-Swenson Post 83 out of Nome show up, it's time to figure out what the fuss is all about.


For the first time since 1966, an American flag was unfolded here and it had the whole town of Nome watching. The flag was then hoisted onto a new pole in front of the school; brand new after a 3-year restoration project.

Chris Armbrust and Teresa Perleberg are both fiber manufacturers and artists, when they first saw the 1916 school back in 2018, they saw a run down, tree covered, forgotten school of the past.

"It is such a surreal day, we have been waiting since 2018 for this day. We knew this day would come. All the naysayers, everyone who said we couldn't do it. We knew it would come and today is the day," Armbrust says.

Holes in the roof, windows out and water damage. It was barely saveable, but the women put on a new roof and restored the school.

In addition to an event center there are rooms for overnight guests.

Some rooms hold the history of the school, pieces of Nome's past; trophies from some of the best teams from Barnes county, photos of the booming small town of Nome back in the day.

A huge fiber mill was recently moved into the school as part of the business for now the school stands as this beacon on the prairie.... when the first pioneers built this over a century ago they certainly never envisioned this. But the learning continues, by using a much cherished piece of the past

"We hear that all the time through social media from people across the country, they can't wait to come, there is nothing like it anywhere that starts with the sheep all the way to the finished product," Perleberg says.


Now the schoolhouse stands as this beacon on the prairie, and when the first pioneers built it over a century ago, they certainly never envisioned this. The learning will be continuing, by using a much cherished piece of the past.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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