Friday, January 28, 2011

New dimensions for the Black Hills School of Woodworking

Meg English
When Watertown native Meg English sat down to break bread with the Belle Fourche Lions Club this week (1/27/11), she was on a mission.  Her talk to the Lions was billed as background about the Black Hills School of Woodworking, but it ended up being quite a bit more.

She shared some exquisite wood products that had been built at the school, which is located in the old Belle Fourche City Hall and is operated by her and her husband, John.  Born in Limerick, Ireland, John English was trained as a cabinetmaker here in South Dakota and has become a renowned writer for most major woodworking magazines and was editor of Woodworker’s Journal.  He’s been building furniture for some 30 years.

But Meg English unveiled a bit of information that may have surprised a few old timers and newcomers alike – there’s a new school in town.

The Arts and Learning Center of the Black Hills goes beyond the many facets of the woodworking school, which already offers a bevy of topics in furniture design and building, including two lathe classes that will be offered in February.  The expanded offerings include writing workshops, photography, ACT preparation, tutoring, and more.

But beyond the creativity and educational activities they’re nurturing in the old City Hall building,  English touted the uniqueness of Belle Fourche.

“Most people don’t seem to realize what a treasure this is,” she said of Belle Fourche, seeming to encourage Lions to roar forward and participate in something of a renaissance for downtown Belle, perhaps building a bit on the historic roots of the old west town.

Lions Rik Bartels (left) and Ron Ensz (right)
help Meg English display items crafted at the Black Hills
School of Woodworking in Belle Fourche
There’s certainly an appreciation for history at the new Arts & Learning Center of the Black Hills.  Not only is it located in a Depression-era sandstone building, but it’s chosen the name Gallery 97 for the gallery where products from art furniture and stained glass to bronzes and fine art are exhibited.  Definitely rooted in history!

You'll find more information about both of these enterprises by visiting their new web site at  

This January meeting of the Belle Fourche Lions also finalized key elements for the Lions Annual Pancake Breakfast, which has been set for Sunday, March 27th at the Moose Lodge.  Lion Bob Schnaible reported that the “all you can eat” event will get underway at 8:00 a.m. and continue until 1:00 p.m., offering hungry customers delicious hotcakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee.  All members are encouraged to mark their calendars and spread the word.

See a few additional photos from this latest meeting in our Lions Gallery.