Boarding school history in Tarnov

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 11:31 AM CDT
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TARNOV, Neb. (KOLN) - There are some amazing structures in the tiny town of Tarnov. One is the Catholic Church, and the other is an old boarding school that now houses the Tarnov Heritage Museum.

We visited with Mary Jane Rosenthal and Judy Hanzel about the museum they manage. “This was a boarding school,” Rosenthal said. “The children would come on Monday and go home on Friday.” The children who came to the school lived on farms at the time, and the roads were not reliable. So, the sturdy building served as a place where kids from the area came to school and stayed during the week.

When you walk in the old Catholic boarding school building, you’ll see classrooms filled with history and memorabilia. One room discusses the day in 1943 when Tarnov was accidentally bombed during a target practice. You can learn more about that at the museum. Tarnov is considered one of two towns in Nebraska that was accidentally bombed during World War II. But it’s not just artifacts in the school building. The building itself is unique.

“We try to give visitors a tour,” Hanzel said. “You will see the dining hall where students who lived here ate.” You will also see the kitchen, the dining area where the nuns ate, and the sisters’ quarters on the west wing. Nuns did the teaching, the cooking, and the many other actions needed to make the boarding school operate. The woodwork throughout the building is quite memorable. Several original artifacts are still in the kitchen. There is a large auditorium on the second floor. “This was built in 1911, and we had indoor plumbing on the second and third floor,” Rosenthal said. “On the third floor was the dormitory,” Hanzel said. “The girls were on one side and the boys on the other.”

The building is no longer used for school, but rather to preserve history as a museum. “It’s still a sturdy building.” Rosenthal said. “You need to come and look around, and then come back and read everything we have here.” It might do you well to visit the museum twice to see all that it has to offer, or at the very least, plan for about two hours at the school, as there is plenty to see and experience.