Springfield School - Hungarian Settlement School - Nursing Home and Proposed Museum
In the beginning, the schools of Springfield were moved from place to place, over the years, in an attempt to acquire a better location and improve the conditions of the school. Over-crowding was a great problem. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Springfield’s population had swelled to nearly two-thousand residents due to the flourishing lumber shipping business. The Springfield residents desired good schools for their children and set about providing a suitable site for a better and larger school. The three-room, "L" shaped, wooden, structure was constructed around 1906-07 by the patrons of Springfield School because their other school buildings were just not large enough. The funds to build the new school were entirely from private donations. The school was constructed by the local carpenters and occupied in 1908, substantiated by the statement of the school superintendent in the school board minutes of January 1, 1908.
Old Springfield School - built in 1906-07
Moved to present location in 1926
Proposed Hungarian Settlement Museum - on National Register of Historic Places
This allowed for a better and larger space for the growing number of students. In 1912, this was the first school in Livingston Parish to have patent desks, thanks to Senator Setoon. He was in New Orleans at the time that another school was getting new furniture, so he acquired those desks for Springfield School. At a later date, another room was added to each end of the school. This converted the school building into the shape of a squared-off letter "C". It had a courtyard and auditorium in the center and around the sides were the classrooms.
In 1926 a new brick building was built for Springfield High School and the School Board decided to move the old wooden building to Hungarian Settlement.
The school building, as it was configured, could not be easily moved in its entirety as one complete entity. The building had to be divided into sections to allow it to move over the narrow roadway, to accommodate the hauling by the team of oxen upon the logs and to keep it intact and free from damage. Cutting the building into three sections made the moving easier. The sections were moved separately and rejoined upon completion of the task. Moving these sections required a different technique than anything ever tried here previously. Wheels and trucks with axles of the size required did not exist at that time and there were no trucks able to move such a wide, cumbersome load. So logs became the "wheels" of choice. Logs of the same size were cut and skinned. The limbs that were sawed off were placed into the deeper ruts so the building would not tilt too much as it rolled over these deep pot-holes. These logs were sawed into approximately the same lengths of about two and a half to three and a half feet in length.
The largest segment was moved first. It took several men to pick up these log pieces and put them in front of the building, in the direction it was to be moved. A system of pulleys, blocks and tackles, cables, and ropes were attached to the building section. A team of oxen was hitched to the apparatus with 200 foot length ropes and chains. A large central wooden drum or winch, with wooden poles jutting out from the drum, turned on an axis as it was pulled by the oxen as they strained against their wooden yokes and harnesses. The oxen got tired and did not want to pull any more. The men driving the oxen had to occasionally lash out at them with long switches to keep them moving forward. They would exchange the well-worn team of oxen at regular intervals and bring in a fresh team to continue the grueling work. They walked in a circular pattern around the drum and axis. It wound the ropes and chains around the winch, ever tightening them, thereby forcing the building forward. The more pulleys and blocks and tackles used, the more that the power was increased and the easier the whole procedure became. After the building moved forward and as the logs in the rear were not needed any longer, they were moved by two men, one on each end of the logs, to the front of the building, becoming the front "rollers" or wheels. Then the oxen would pull on the pulleys and the building would groan and creak until it moved forward a few more feet. Although the procedure continued so slowly it appeared that it would never get to the new site, it made the trip in almost record time for those days with the equipment that was available to them.
The other two sections were moved in the same way. This slow process continued for approximately three weeks. The men working on the project certainly knew what they were doing because there were no accidents or mishaps. Three young boys, who lived nearby on highway 43, Nick Erdey, Steve Horvath, and Tony Ujvari watched in awe as the building eased past them on toward its new location. They can still remember, very vividly, the sight they saw as the school building was moved. The three building sections were carefully positioned together and set in the correct place. Following the placement on the lot, the buildings were joined at the seams and made whole again.
There was no running water at the school. An outdoor privy and an artesian well were the only utilities available at that time. Elementary students used this building for quite a while. Later, a lunch room was installed in part of the building.
The school was closed in the early 1940's. All classes were moved to the new school building in Albany. Upon moving the school to Albany, the old building remained vacant for a few years. The community felt the need of a place to take care of the elderly and infirm in the area who could not stay alone on their farms and who needed specialized care. Under the direction of Reverend Alexander Bartus, the building was converted into a nursing home and was reconfigured to suit that immediate need in 1944. Named "Our Home", the facility was administered by Reverend Bartus for 32 years. When "Our Home" closed in April 1976, the building became vacant once again and lapsed into a state of disrepair for many years.
In 2000 the Hungarian Settlement Historical Society acquired the building from the Livingston Parish School Board. The organization is in the process of securing the necessary funds to renovate the building and turn it into a museum.
Kropog, Royanne 2007, The Story of Árpádhon, Hungarian Settlement 1896 - 2006 by the Residents and Descendants of the Early Settlers as told to Royanne Kropog Printed by Moran Printing and Emprint, Baton Rouge, La. in August 2008.
Mocsary, Victoria Ann 1996, Árpádhon: An Early History of Hungarian Settlement Livingston Parish, Louisiana, Center for Regional Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA.
About The Museum
The Hungarian Settlement museum is located in the restored Hungarian Settlement school, and is dedicated to the historical preservation of the Hungarian community in Albany, Louisiana.
In the late 1800s, Hungarian settlers began to move from the harsh industrial environments of the North and East United States to a more desirable and familiar agricultural environment.
Our photo gallery features both historic and recent photos that illustrate the rich history and culture of South Louisiana’s Hungarian settlers. Also includes photos of our museum renovation.