Twice Abandoned: The Incredible Ruins of Searsboro Consolidated School

The ruins of Searsboro Consolidated School languish on a hill at the edge of a small town in rural Iowa. Largely obscured by trees and overgrown weeds, the grand structure sits abandoned and heavily damaged by the elements.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

After checking out the ruins of Oak Park Academy and taking a quick look at the old Titan Tire factory in Des Moines, I followed roads less traveled into the rural town of Searsboro, Iowa.

I drove through the peaceful neighborhood, admiring the sprawling yards and abundant wide open space. A deep sense of peace permeated the air. The stress and noise of city life felt a thousand miles away.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I parked near the old school and cautiously approached. There weren't any signs warning away trespassers and the place looked deserted, so I was pretty sure it wouldn't hurt to have a look around. Still, I didn't want to be mistaken for a trouble-maker, so I peered out at the few homes within eyeshot to see if anyone had noticed my presence. A young woman in her early 20's wandered into view across the road. I gave a friendly wave.

She called out to me, saying that her dog ran off and asked if I'd seen it. I told her I hadn't, but I'd keep an eye out. I asked if anyone would mind if I had a look inside the school and she said she didn't think anyone would care.

I walked past the front door, which lay bent and rusting in front of the doorway, and stepped inside.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

It was immediately apparent that the school was in bad shape. Just beyond the threshold another door leaned against the wall, warped and stained from water damage.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

From the outside, the building looked sturdy and solid, but the inside told a different story.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

The paint was peeling from the walls near the entryway. In most places the paint was entirely gone and the concrete had begun to fall away from the masonry beneath it. A layer of damp, disintegrated concrete covered the floor.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

An organ resting on its back greeted me as I ventured deeper inside.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

The old school had experienced severe water damage. The ceiling had fallen in most of the rooms on the upper floor, leaving a network of exposed beams.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I gazed up at a beautiful angled skylight. This old building must have been gorgeous in its heyday. It's sad to see a place like this in such an advanced state of decay.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I wandered through the old classrooms. All but a few of the chalkboards had fallen from their rotting wood frames.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

One door marked "7th & 8th GRADE" was still wedged in place, slanting and ready to give way. I was careful not to disturb it. As far as I could tell its faded lettering was the only signage that remained to indicate what any of the rooms had been used for. I wondered if the former students knew what had become of their school.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

The gymnasium was dark and damp and cluttered with shelving, rusted equipment and a lot of unrecognizable decaying junk.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I was glad to find a couple of neat artifacts among the mess. One was an old arcade game that didn't seem like the sort of thing you'd find in a school. It might have been dumped there with other trash after the school's abandonment.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

There was also a neat old soda cooler with the Dr Pepper logo on it and a few other logos I didn't recognize.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

It was an old type of vending machine. The underside of the lid had instructions for how to buy a bottle.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

Most of the other artifacts were damaged and half-buried beneath a layer of fallen ceiling material.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I was able to find very little information about the history of Searsboro Consolidated School. It is unclear when it was built, but its name indicates that it was the result of the consolidation of several smaller school districts into one. When the school closed, probably sometime in the 1980s, Searsboro became a part of Lynnville-Sully Community School District.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I've heard, but cannot verify, that the school was later sold for $50 to private owners who lived there for several years before moving out of state. I wonder if they left because of the deterioration of the building.

Several bed frames from the former residents remained in one of the classrooms.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

A closet-sized room inside the school had a dorm-room style setup with a TV, couch and two large speakers situated beneath a lofted bed.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

Another room was filled with old furniture. It might have been a teachers lounge, or maybe the furniture was brought in after the school closed.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

When I'd finished exploring the school, I took a few minutes to scan the surrounding area, hoping to spot the lost dog of the gal I'd met earlier, but there was no sign of it. Hopefully she'd already found it.

I got back on the road and set my sights toward another of Iowa's abandoned schools. I'll tell you all about it next week.

Searsboro Consolidated School abandoned and decaying in Iowa

I would love to hear from former students of Searsboro Consolidated School, or anyone who has firsthand knowledge of this neat old place. Please leave a comment below if you have any information you'd like to share.

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9 comments :

  1. Great find, Jim.
    I am always shocked how quickly buildings deteriorate. You don't feel like you do a lot of maintenance when you're occupying a space, but wow-when people are gone, it goes fast.
    We're heading into Iowa today. Looking forward to a couple days of cruising the back roads.
    Have a great week

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sue. It's amazing how small cracks and leaks turn into massive water damage over a short period of time. I bet this area gets a lot of rain too. I wonder if the people who lived there attempted to do some work on the building. That would explain some of the missing sections of wall.

      Have a wonderful time in Iowa. The scenery is so beautiful. I need to make another trip out there before too long.

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  2. Another great post! The interiors looks amazing and creepy!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, my love. It was such a neat place to explore. I loved how the plants were growing up out of the floor on the upper level. The basement was definitely creepy and very dark.

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  3. As usual. Your work is incredible. You make me feel as if I am right there when you create these articles. Thank you and keep up the fantastic work.

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  4. Is this place open to the public?
    -Thanks!

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  5. KInda creepy, but very interesting.

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  6. As a student from K-4th grade(1950-55) I remember it well. I had 2 older sisters that also went there. My mother was a teacher there until we moved to California in summer of 1955. I have visited Searsboro a number of times over the years and watched school slowly decay. Very sad to see. Gary McDowell

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