To recognize extraordinary citizenship and commitment to their community, Frank and Belinda VanderSloot were presented an award by the Bonneville County Heritage Association on Aug. 29, 2013. The award honors Frank and Belinda for their efforts in completely restoring the historic New Sweden School building and generously donating its use to the newly formed American Heritage Charter School.
As a labor of love, this restoration project took 20 months to complete, approximately $2 million of personal funds and thousands of hours to refurbish a landmark school that served the area’s first- through eighth-grade students from 1927 – 1979. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the New Sweden School stood vacant for 34 years and had fallen victim to vandalism and general deterioration. The restoration team meticulously preserved and restored as many of the school’s original features as possible while still meeting current building codes and standards.
“This school is full of history and memories. It was once a beautiful building. We wanted to restore this historic landmark back to being a solid asset to the community,” said Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot. “I believe the American Heritage Charter School will provide a superior education for our children. The fact is that values such as honesty, personal responsibility, leadership, patriotism, hard work and ethics are greatly needed in our society, and they are generally being missed in today’s schools.
Bonneville County Heritage Association chair Ann Rydalch presented the Heritage Achievement Award to Frank and Belinda VanderSloot at the New Sweden School’s restoration ceremony. Several hundred residents of the New Sweden area, city and school officials, and local media attended the capstone event. Moments later, a large bell tower was dramatically hoisted by crane into the air and set back into its original position atop the school’s roof. Frank and Belinda presented the building’s keys to the new school’s principal.