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SIOUX CITY --  As the final weeks of classes wind down for Hunt Elementary School, Mary Steinhoff looked across the street as a group of students moved outside for recess Monday.

Steinhoff, who has lived for five years in the 2000 block of Jackson Street, said she's followed the plans to build a new Hunt Elementary adjacent to the current one, which is the oldest in the Sioux City school district. She likes to imagine how the school looked a century ago and how the neighborhood has changed over time.

Thinking of the thousands of students and families who have been impacted by attending Hunt, Steinhoff is torn on moving from an old building to a modern one.

Plus, she added, motioning towards the Hunt outdoor basketball area, her husband Josh Steinhoff "proposed to me on the playground."

Hunt Elementary, which dates to 1906, is by far the oldest in the city’s public school system. It will be demolished after students use the building for one last year, through May 30, then for a few years that Hunt students will be relocated to Crescent Park.

School officials have sought to modernize the fleet of schools in the district, so getting a new elementary building in that midtown area is a big step. Brian Fahrendholz, district director of operations and maintenance, said once Hunt is closed, the oldest school in the district will be Sunnyside Elementary, which dates to 1957.

Hunt Elementary #2 choice

Students leave Hunt Elementary after the end of the school day in Sioux City, Iowa on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Sioux City Journal Photo by Justin Wan

The current Hunt Elementary School will be replaced with a building just south of the current one, bearing the same name. It is being built in the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Jackson and Nebraska streets, with a goal to be finished by August 2022, at an estimated cost of $20.5 million.

The school will be demolished this summer after some asbestos is removed and furniture and other equipment are moved out, Fahrendholz said. The current school site will be replaced by a teacher parking lot and part of the L-shaped building.

Seeing the school razed will be a sad thing for Mary Steinhoff.

Josh Steinhoff is a fifth grade teacher at Hunt, so he walks about 100 yards to the school's south entrance. The Steinhoffs selected their home for proximity to the school, and "we love the school and the neighborhood," Mary said.

Mary said Josh has noted the lack of air conditioning is a downside.

"A lot of people are excited for the new building," Mary Steinhoff said, but she likes some of the classic features of the school designed with flourishes from a bygone era.

"I like the architecture and all the fancies on the top. We are hoping we can get a piece," she said. "It is sad to see it torn down, because there are so many good memories, but it will be exciting at the same time."

Fahrendholz said he understands people like to save notable pieces of schools that get torn down. In the case of Hunt, he said, rosettes, or rose-shaped decorative pieces, and some of the sandstone concrete sections, including the "Hunt" lettering, will be kept.

"We are going to salvage several pieces, especially from the exterior," Fahrendholz said.

"It is not uncommon for us to do that... to bring along some elements of the building."

A final design of the roughly 90,000-square-foot building is under way and will  be aired later in the year. School officials decided to keep the Hunt school to two levels and not build a third floor in order to shave the total cost by $2 million.

Hunt Elementary

Students gather by the hallway at Hunt Elementary in Sioux City, Iowa on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Sioux City Journal Photo by Justin Wan

Recent tasks on the new Hunt grounds include installation of geothermal wells. The third bid package in the Hunt project was unveiled in mid-February for site work such as demolishing the school, plus remaining street and underground utilities reconstruction, Fahrendholz said. The block-long length of 20th Street will be removed as part of that work.

Those elements have an estimated cost of $2.4 million. A fourth bid package is expected by late 2019 or early 2020 for the main construction of the building.

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