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BY MIKE AVITT
I was asked which buildings were original to Lesanville. There are just two on their original foundation and that is the barn and the farmhouse in front of it.
Paul Ramsey organized the Ramsey Farm Foundation, with Phil Burmeister as president, and the barn at Lesanville was restored by the Iowa Barn Foundation in 2000. Carl Hogue built the barn in 1928. Paul’s vision for the recreated village was for kids and folks to experience life on the farm as it was in the 1930s. Paul spent a great deal of time on this farm in the 1930s when his uncle and aunt, George and Jennie (Lesan) Vance, owned the farm.
The first building moved in was the Mountain Brush school building and placed where the original Lesan school sat. This building was donated by the Joe Routh family and I’m certain this took place in 2001.
The next building moved in was the Burrit Lesan farmhouse, a two-story structure that was placed south of Aunt Jennie’s house. This house was donated by Don and Edna Small. After a search to relocate a Ringgold County church building to Lesanville, the current church was newly built in 2002 very near the site of the original Lesan Church.
Next was the George Axtell two-story farmhouse on the east side of the road. It was moved from one quarter of a mile west on Highway 2, the current location of Bice Auto. This was done about 2004.
In 2006, Frank and Judy Pollock donated the original Lesan schoolhouse, seen in this week’s picture. It was moved to the lots just north of the Axtell house, built onto, and converted to a residence. I assume the existence of this school building was unknown in 2001 when the Mountain Brush school was moved in.
The carriage house, pavilion, and depot were all built new, but I don’t know when.
Lesanville (it was just called Lesan in the old days) was on the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad between Kellerton and Mount Ayr. My railroad timetables say Lesan was a flag stop which means it didn’t have a station agent or depot as we know it. It may have had a shelter, similar to a bus stop, but more likely, passengers awaiting the train would idle in the general store. A sign would be placed trackside to inform the engineer of potential riders.
I don’t know much about Lesanville’s current status, but as I drove by today (April 20), workers were replacing the roof on the pavilion. I have attended several functions there and it was always more than satisfactory.