Ski Chalet and old school building demolished for safety purposes

Many Sturgis and area residents were very disappointed when they learned that the old Kopje School that was used a ski chalet in Sturgis was demolished on April 29.

The Town of Sturgis made the decision to have the building demolished due to safety issues as it has fallen into a state of disrepair and was vandalised beyond repair. There had been a few groups through the years that have stepped up and were going to fix and repair the building but it all fell through and has been vacant for numerous years, ever since the ski hill closed in 1993.

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Ron Wagar, who used to teach ski lessons, reported this as being a sad day. " It is sad to see the building being demolished. We tried to have other groups step up to use the building but there was just no interest in it," he said.

The Kopje School was built in 1912 and served the area for many years before it came to its final resting spot at the bottom of the Sturgis Ski Hill in 1979. Adrian and Neenie Mattison had painted a wall mural on the inside of the building but tragically it was destroyed with graffiti, as was the rest of the building after it was vandalised. Daryl Kalenchuk and Clifton Shirley had also built a stone fireplace to add to the renovations of the building but all that remains now is a pile of rubble.

The following was taken from the Sturgis history book.

“The first interest in forming a school district in the area was a map dated 1908, followed by another on March 24, changing the boundaries. A petition dated April 4, 1908 was made for the formation of a public school district. Several names were suggested for the school district with the name Kopje finally selected due to the Kopje Creek in the valley that was located west of the school. The school was originally situated on one acre of the southeast corner of SE-9-35-4 W2nd. Early in 1912 the school was built by CJ O'Brien and sons at the cost of $255.50. The building was 30 feet by 22 feet with a lobby and opened on June 12, 1912.

“In the 1930's an additional acre to the west was purchased. In 1957, Kopje became part of the Sub-unit #6 of the Sturgis School Unit. On August 17, 1970, the Department of Education gave approval for the transfer of the Kopje School site to Willard Prekaski.

After the school was closed, the Unit moved the building to the Preeceville School yard where it was used for several years. Later it was moved to the Sturgis ski hill on February 1979 where it served as a clubhouse and meeting room for the Assiniboine Ski Club. The club did some interior and exterior renovations and used the building for numerous years.”