Saturday, September 23, 2 & 5 p.m.
Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 West 12th Street, Davenport IA
With the event held in celebration of the building's 150th anniversary and the decade-long rehabilitation of historic Forest Grove School Number Five, Kelly and Tammy Rundle of the Moline-based Fourth Wall Films will premiere their new documentary Resurrecting Forest Grove at Davenport's Putnam Museum & Science Center on September 23, a Q&A with the filmmakers and other film participants set to follow the afternoon's two screenings.
The Rundles first visited Bettendorf's Forest Grove School in 2009 while filming the decaying edifice in a blizzard for their Emmy-nominated historical documentary Country School: One Room – One Nation. The school appeared to be on the brink of collapse, but in 2012, a small group of preservationists stood before the hollowed-out shell of the unique and historic 1873 Forest Grove School Number Five and decided that it could, and should, be saved. Resurrecting Forest Grove consequently tells the dramatic true story behind the seemingly-impossible task of restoring a vintage one-room school to its 1920s appearance. Footage and interviews gathered over a decade depict the problems they faced and the solutions they employed as they attempted to bring this decaying rural icon back to life. The surprises and successes of this challenging restoration project are intercut with a vivid historical portrait of the "Roaring '20s" in rural America.
"It has been an exciting experience to watch and document the ‘resurrection’ of Forest Grove Number Five over the past decade,” said producer Tammy Rundle. “It took a dedicated and hard-working group of visionaries to bring the school back to life. It is an inspirational story that will make you think twice about saying, ‘It can’t be done.’"
The Forest Grove School Preservation was founded in 2012 and began restoring the weatherboards of the one-room school soon after. With assistance from Cedar Rapids architect Doug Steinmetz, volunteers worked from historic photos to reconstruct the structure’s bell tower, windows and doors, foundation, roof, floors, and signage. The restoration project was featured in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation magazine in 2018, and funds were raised for the restoration effort through community events including pie auctions and trivia nights. Community members provided labor and materials at a discount or no charge, including donations of floorboards and slate chalkboards from three nearby schools, two of which had been demolished. Restoration of Forest Grove School Number Five was completed in 2019, and the schoolhouse is presently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fourth Wall Films is a four-time Emmy Award-winning independent media production company formerly located in Los Angeles, and now based in Moline. Resurrecting Forest Grove was partially funded by grants from Humanities Iowa, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Moline Foundation. Forest Grove School Number Five itself is located at 24040 Forest Grove Drive in Bettendorf, and is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon during the summer or by appointment, with appointments available year-round. For more information and to schedule a tour, visit ForestGroveSchool.org.
Preshow entertainment for the film's September 23 debut begins at 1 p.m. with the Corey Kendrick Jazz Trio in the Putnam Museum & Science Center lobby, and Resurrecting Forest Grove will be screened at 2 p.m. (currently sold out) and 5 p.m. Tickets are $8-9, and more information is available by calling (563)324-0049 and visiting Putnam.org, and also visiting ForestGroveMovie.com.