Ring in the Holiday Season at The Schoolhouse

WRITTEN by JODIE TWEED  | Photographs courtesy of THE SCHOOLHOUSE

The Schoolhouse hosts several wreath-making workshops just before Christmas, a winter craft activity for the entire family. 

FOR YEARS, JOE HALL THOUGHT NISSWA NEEDED AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS TREE LOT, especially one that was open during the city’s annual City of Lights Celebration. Families could come into town for the winter festivities and fireworks and leave with a fresh Christmas tree atop their car. Last year he opened The Schoolhouse in downtown Nisswa.

“It seems like it’s only the big box stores that are selling trees,” explains Hall. “I thought it would be fun to have an old-time tree lot like in the movie, “A Christmas Story.”

The building, which he’d used for storage for years, was the former Pillager school. It had been moved to the lot sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s and used by a blacksmith, who put the big sliding doors onto the building. When The Schoolhouse opened its tree lot last winter, the Christmas trees were so popular that they sold out quickly. They’re hoping to offer even more this winter season.

The Schoolhouse also offers workshops where visitors can be creative, making wreaths for their homes and other fun projects.  The building, which once was a place where children learned to read and write, now teaches adults and even entire families to create unique seasonal decor for their home. Just before Christmas it’s become a magical place to stop by to purchase a tree, garland or other holiday decorations. Other classes have been held year round to teach participants to make container gardens and planters and other fresh décor with a seasonal flair. At Christmastime, families can get together and make advent wreaths for themselves or have them shipped to grandparents. The Schoolhouse will ship the wreaths for you.

All supplies to create your own wreaths are available to you during a wreath-making workshop. The rest is up to you. 

“The classes give people a reason to get together,” Hall says.

At The Schoolhouse, families this winter can choose from five varieties of pine and spruce trees at any height they need. They also have tree stands and other tree supplies. Once you pick out your tree, employees will help you net your tree and get it ready for you to take it home.

But Hall is hoping to evolve The Schoolhouse into so much more. He is currently developing a 60-acre apple orchard south of South Long Lake near Brainerd. Apple Springs is slated to open next fall, although apples won’t likely be available for a couple of years as the trees mature. When they open, they’ll have roughly 1,000 to 1,500 apple and Christmas trees. Hall says Apple Springs will host at least twenty fall family activities, including a corn maze, corn pit, hay and tractor rides, pumpkin-carving contests and boat races in the creek that runs through the scenic property.

The Schoolhouse will eventually sell apples, pumpkins and other items grown at Apple Springs. It will also expand its class offerings, like maple syrup and bee-keeping classes, along with other workshops geared toward families.

Participants of a wreath-making workshop last winter show off their finished products.

“Fun family activities are something that is lacking in the area,” Hall explains.

The Schoolhouse doesn’t hold regular hours, but is open on a pop-up basis. It’s best to check its Facebook page to find out about upcoming events and activities.

The Schoolhouse also provides holiday decorating for businesses and homes. Hall says they provide all the decorations and lighting. For some properties, that may mean full decorations for the entire home but for others, it may simply be adding holiday-style planter pots or wreaths hung up on a porch. There is a form on their website, www.theschoolhousenisswa.com, that can be filled out in order to get a quote or find out more information.

The Schoolhouse is located at 5476 City Hall Street, Nisswa.