(Editor’s Note: For the first time in over 50 years of educational history in Estherville, the Maniece Building is no more.
Originally built as an elementary school, it was later converted into a section of the high school building. It was leveled this summer for the new middle school currently under construction.
Today we take a look at the dedicated and kind teacher whose named graced the facility where many students received their education.)
She was born in 1878 and devoted her life to the profession of teaching
Miss Margaret Maniece was a gentle spirit who had the privilege of teaching in Estherville at the Jackson School. Her time there began in 1908 and continued for the next 41 years.
Information secured from her great-nephew, Don West of Estherville, stated Margaret was 5 years old when her family migrated from County Fermanagh, Province of Ulster, North Ireland.
Inside the cover of the dedication program for the Margaret J. Maniece Elementary School on Nov. 29, 1951, was her biographical information. The family first settled in Fenimore, Wisc., in 1883. “In 1890 they moved to Martin County, Minn., and in 1893 to a farm two miles east of Estherville.”
She completed schooling in Estherville and received normal training at the State Normal School in Cedar Falls.
According to the program, “She taught rural schools in southern Minnesota and the vicinity of Estherville for seven years and for two years in Huntington before landing the job at the Jackson School.
To her high esteem, she was elected principal of the Jackson School in 1915 and she held this position for 34 years. At that time she retired due to ill health.
She was considered to be a true teacher with all the high ideals of the profession, believing that it was her duty to teach honor and morals and how to live, as well as the three R’s.
Because of her many years in teaching, she had the privilege of instructing three generations of the same family. The narrative added, “She was interested in her pupils outside the school room and many children have been furnished warm clothing, shoes and other necessities through her generosity.
“In recognition of her long and faithful service it is fitting that this new school building be named The Margaret Maniece School in her honor.”
An interesting note is that Roland Fagre of Estherville made the presentation of the building as the contractor. At the time, N.E. Demoney was the superintendent of Estherville schools.
It was on March 11, 1946, a special bond issue was passed for a new elementary school at a cost of $220,000. But it was soon realized more funds were needed for the building and the voters again passed another bond issue for $200,000 on Aug. 15, 1949.
The architect incorporated the sloping land in the building design. While the building included windows on two floors on the north side, the south side had three floors of windows.
Attending the dedication was Maniece’s oldest pupil, Dennis A. Bagan. He was a student in Dolliver in 1902 and 1903.
He was quoted in the Estherville Daily News as saying, “I was a devil, but she was a good teacher. She wasn’t much older than I was.”
At the time of the dedication Maniece was 73 years old and many in the audience were her former students. She had a formal speech in her purse but chose to not use it at the dedication.
She was quoted as saying, “If she were to go back to teaching, she would prefer the Jackson School” in spite of the modern conveniences of the new Maniece building.