For decades, the weathered schoolhouse and the remains of its playground have snagged the attention of passersby on state Highway 13 in rural Douglas County.

For decades before, the two-room schoolhouse in the town of Cloverland, formed by connecting the King and Harvey schools, was a focal point of the community.

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"It had a great past," said Helen Martin, who lives about two miles away.

The King School was built in 1916. With horses and sleigh, the nearby Harvey School was moved to the same location and connected that same year.

"There were enough kids for a two-room school then," said Juanita Martin, Helen's sister-in-law.

"Six Burhans went there," said Cloverland Treasurer Jessie Burhans. "One was my husband."

Even when the school shut its doors in 1948, they didn't stay closed for long. The building was transformed into the Cloverland Community Club, a social hub for residents.

"We used to have a dance at least once a month there when the kids were young," Juanita Martin said. They held an annual rummage and pie sale during the Bayfield Apple Fest and celebrated milestones from birthdays to baby showers.

"We used to have square dances here; I was at many of them," Burhans said. "They had a bridal shower for me here. I was 16 years old. I'm 75 now."

But as residents aged and moved out of the area, doings at the club dwindled. An all-school class reunion was among the last events housed at the King School.

"It's been sitting for 25 or 30 years," Juanita Martin said.

Today, the school building and its distinctive merry-go-round still attract attention. Sometimes, that's not a good thing. In the past year, vandals have targeted the site, leaving broken windows in their wake.

For years, area residents sought to add the King School to the Wisconsin Register of Historic Places.

"We tried so hard to get it recognized by the state," Helen Martin said, and they reached out to the Old-Brule Heritage Society as well. The society's efforts have been focused on preserving the Davidson Windmill along Highway 13 in the town of Lakeside. The group has since added a pioneer Finnish log home and the last wooden queen-post truss bridge in the state to the site. Work currently is underway to preserve the Monticello School, which dates back to 1911, as a museum and archive in the town of Maple.

But in Cloverland, the King School has deteriorated. Its chalkboards still hold math problems and signatures from area residents, but it needs a new roof, foundation, and - in many places - floors. The recent vandalism has left it open to the wind, as well.

"After they started smashing up the building, it was too late," Helen Martin said. "I'll just live with my memories of it now."

Many of the youngsters who took part in Cloverland Community Club activities are retired now, Juanita Martin said. Most local residents don't have a connection to the site anymore.

"They don't think anything of it, have any feeling for it, because this is past their times," she said. "That's why we have so much trouble with vandalism."

The members of the Cloverland Community Club who are left - Burhans and her son - are mulling the fate of the building. They know it's in rough shape, but still hold hope that something can be salvaged.

"I hate to see that building go," Burhans said. "So does anyone who stops."

Motorists stop by the school several times a week, drawn by the building's mystique. Without an outpouring of funds and volunteer labor, however, Burhans admits saving the school may be "impossible."

Another option is to raze the twin schools and place a memorial pavilion, picnic table and sign.

Burhans is asking anyone who cares about the fate of the building to give her a call at (715) 372-8424.

"We just need to get together," she said.

No matter what happens to the structure, its influence lives on.

"We still have our good memories of it," Helen Martin said.