Can Sarles School Be Saved?

Sarles, North Dakota

Sarles, North Dakota is a tiny town right on the border of Cavalier and Towner Counties, fewer than 4 miles from the Canadian border.

At the time of our visit in 2006, this school was undergoing renovation by a lady who wanted to turn it into a hunting lodge. She was doing a very nice job of it. Unfortunately, we’re told the restoration project ended before completion and the school is once again abandoned. We hope to return one day soon and get an update on the status of this place. 

Sarles, North Dakota

Sarles, North Dakota

Sarles, North Dakota

Sarles, North Dakota

Sarles, North Dakota

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media


17 Comments on “Can Sarles School Be Saved?

  1. Oooo love that school! My mom and her 5 brothers and sisters all went there, and I’ve been in a few times since it was abandoned. Also went to a meeting in 2007 of the people who are trying to preserve it, and they said the roof was repaired so there should be no more water damage. Their next goal was to clean up the damage that’s already been done. I hope it’s still standing there when I get a chance to go back! Here are my pics of it:

    • I love this school also, I’m going to be 53, went there when I was in first grade!!

  2. If I remember correctly, we played basketball in this gym when it was Border Central school. The gym was not long enough for a half-line, so there were two kind-of-half-lines. Each team had a different one to worry about for over-and-backs. And the out-of-bounds was so narrow that your toes hung over the line even if your heels touched the wall.

  3. It so sad to see such and old historian building going to waste, wish there was something a person could do to save such great history. When i was there in 2009 i could not believe the beauty the place once had and now its just a memory of the past.

  4. My parents farm land near here and the last I heard was she just couldn’t make it go. It was open as a lodge for at least one year, but with a lot of things in this area you have to get community buy in.

    • You actually need more than community buy in…you need to turn those who love the community to turn these historical places into 501c3 non-profits. You want to preserve community and reasons to keep community rather than let them migrate out to other states. Check out the Wimbledon Grocery, it’s a 501c3 in order to keep good food and good health in the community so people don’t have to exist on convenience store food or nothing available. It also provides a center of the town for residents to gather and brainstorm of how to enrich the community.

  5. Interesting to see the old school. I attended K-6 there. The kindergarten class was held in the old coal bunker and to get to the gym you had to walk through the boiler room. Of the two schools that made up Border Central this was the full size gym with 8 foot concrete walls surrounding the floor. the fans sat above the court. the small gym was in the Calvin school which I heard is now a private residence. I always loved the hardwood floors and the big Regulator clocks in all of the classrooms.

  6. My grandparents sold their place in 1921. Moved from Sarles to Oregon in 1914. My grandfather was Gavin Duncan.

  7. My father was the Grade School Principal and 6th grade teacher at this school for many years, (68-82 I believe). Many fond memories are held in this old building. If you go north of town a mile, there is an old house made of the same type of brick. It was the Superintendants home, it was built at the same time the school was.

  8. Pingback: The 10 Most Intriguing Abandoned North Dakota Places :

  9. Barb and Chuck Horner deserve a great deal of thanks from the community for all their efforts towards saving Sarles School. Kudos!!!!

  10. My grandma had the café for so many years! I remember hearing stories that many Hollywood peeps would come up there to duck hunt. Fess Parker and those types also had bought land but not sure.

  11. It’s so sad to see these abandoned schools dotting the landscape of ND. To me what’s interesting is how many there are, and what it tells us about the values of the communities that built them. These are not private schools for the children of the wealthy. These are Public Schools, temples of a sort, built and paid for by the citizens of these townships. They bear witness to a bond of shared values. As per John Dewey, Public Education for ALL is the foundation of what we loosely call “Democracy”.

    • Agree,
      The communities put a lot of money into the schools that are still standing today. Great stories everyone. Keep it up.

  12. It is so sad to see these schools in such dire shape, falling together, crumbling, and totally useless. They had so much life at one time, filled with many memories, and stories to be told.. To bad it couldnt have been turned into a lodge or bed and Breakfast. that takes a huge amount of money, and needs a return to make it profitable as well. Also people who are willing to work hard to make it happen..

  13. Seems it’d be a good candidate to get on the historic registry and maybe apply for available grants to refurbish.

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