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Lincoln School is Nymore anchor

Students at Lincoln Elementary School pose with a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln hanging in the school's lobby. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

In the summer of 1892, Porter Nye and his family set up a homestead on the south shore of Lake Bemidji.

The area was the last territory in Minnesota to be opened for settlement, and the logging boom was just beginning.

According to local lore, Nye used some of the first boards produced by a mill on the Mississippi River between Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving to build a small schoolhouse on his homestead. Nye also was the first teacher at the school.

In 1902, J. Custer Moore teamed up with Nye to plat the 16-block town site of Nye-Moore, which evolved to Nyemore and, now, Nymore. The next year, residents of the village of Nymore passed a bond issue to build a wood frame school at the corner of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue Southeast. The community named the school after President Abraham Lincoln.

Also operating in Nymore was the four-grade East School on the current site of Lincoln Elementary School at 1617 Fifth St. N.E.

Land speculation took off after 1910 and the original Lincoln School became overcrowded. School taxes also were inadequate to maintain the building. Lincoln School was condemned by the State Department of Education, and on March 5, 1916, the Nymore Village Council petitioned the Bemidji City Council for annexation and school consolidation.

It was noted in the Bemidji Daily Pioneer that women voted in the Nymore annexation and school consolidation referendum held later that month. An April 19, 1916, article in the Pioneer stated: "With the annexation of Nymore, a new school will be necessary. A new building will cost about $50,000."

Students started the fall 1917 semester in the new brick school at Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue. The building is now home to Mount Zion Church.

With the consolidation of the school districts, Bemidji also supplied Nymore with a 14-passenger bus to transport students.

In 1995, Bemidji School District voters approved construction of the new Lincoln Elementary School. Site work began in 1997, and students moved in in October 1999.

On July 3, 1999, the school district held a farewell open house at the 1917 building. About 1,000 current and former students, faculty and staff participated. They toured classrooms and viewed artifacts from the school's collection.

A special artifact, the portrait of President Lincoln originally hung in 1924 in the hallway at the 414 Lincoln Ave. S.E. school, moved with the students into the current Lincoln Elementary School. He now looks down on continuing generations of Lincoln Lakers in the school lobby.

Looking to the future, Lincoln Principal Tom Kusler said he expects the school population of about 500 students to remain steady, or even modestly increase.

"We're still able to maintain the same number of sections," he said.

There are 37 teachers and 21 classrooms at Lincoln.

The big changes will be in technology, he said. This year, three fifth-grade teachers began using electronic SMART Boards in a pilot project.

"We have 19 teachers that are getting SMART Boards now," he said.

Kusler said the purchases will come from the federal Title I funds, not the Bemidji School District budget.

"I think technologies are what we're going to be getting into more and more down the road," he said.

Information for this article came from "Celebrating Lincoln School," a Lincoln School History Project, and the Beltrami County Historical Society archives.