History of Cosgrove


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The History of Cosgrove, Iowa

St. Peter’s congregation was not always in Cosgrove. A church was first built in 1861 two miles east of Windham on the Black Diamond Road. In 1890 a decision was made to build a new wooden church on a high, dry spot about 3 miles to the north where the steeple of the church would reach far up into the sky and could be seen for miles around. Ten acres on the top of the hill in “Cosgrove” were given to the church by Al Rohret.

The piece of land reached from the north-south road (now called the Cosgrove Road) eastward to the farm house built in 1880 by Al Rohret (and owned today by Louis and Imelda Eckerman).
To the north and south of the property the hill-top quickly fell off, but a rough roadway (now 400th Ave) ran East and West along the ridge.

A spot for the church was chosen at the entrance of Al Rohret’s lane and, in 1893, they began to build the church, under the direction of a carpenter, using volunteer labor from the congregation. Some offered a team and wagon and spent many hours going to Tiffin or to Oxford to bring loads of lumber to Cosgrove that had come by rail.

The new church in Cosgrove in the 1890s

In 1903 a church school was built on the north side of Main Street where there is now a parking area, and a group of nuns (The Sisters of Humility) moved from Ottumwa to Cosgrove to begin their teaching duties.

A house (St Angela's Convent) was built for the nuns. The picture shows Father -, the parish priest, nine nuns and the entire 1908 graduating class from the Cosgrove High School. This building stood to the north of the 1954 gymnasium, and was used for hot school lunches in the 60s and 70s. It was torn down in the 1980s.

In 1912 a new K-12 school building was planned. The classrooms would be modern, spacious, safe and cheerful.

The new school was built in 1913 at a total cost of $22,000,

In the 1920s money was getting short and it was decided to strike a deal with the state: provided the school met state requirements for athletics and science instruction, the state would buy the school building, appoint the principal and pay the sisters to teach. In 1953 it was decided that the constitutional prohibition of religious instruction in state schools really had to be enforced, and after that the Sisters of Humility no longer taught in the Cosgrove schools.

In 1954 a gymnasium suitable for public school athletics was built, together with some additional classrooms connecting the gym to the old school. The Cosgrove Consolidated School district continued with K-12 classes until 1963 when the Cosgrove schools merged with the Clear Creek Community School District and then the Cosgrove buildings became the Middle School for the whole district. Children were then brought by bus from Oxford and from Tiffin.

In 1990, when the Clear Creek Schools merged with the Amana School District, Middle School was moved elsewhere and the Cosgrove school buildings were put up for sale. As soon as the neighborhood heard that the heart of their community might be taken over by a manufacturing plant of some kind, they realized that they and their neighbors placed a high value on the now traditional use of Cosgrove as a Community Center. A group of “Cosgrovians” got together, scraped up the money and purchased the buildings from the state. They called it 'The Cosgrove Institute'.


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