One of Hennepin County's last one-room schoolhouses still standing on its original site has made it onto the National Register of Historic Places.

Members of the Champlin Historical Society spent two years going through the arduous process to get the Dunning School on the list of the nation's most treasured landmarks. On Saturday, they celebrated the accomplishment with an ice cream social and unveiled a bronze plaque that now stands next to the one-story, wood-framed building that served students in old School District 99 from 1876 to 1947.

"This is a big day," said Champlin Mayor Ryan Sabas during the event. "We are keeping a piece of our history. This place is now forever protected."

Of course, a few things have changed since the doors first opened. The Champlin Historical Society lifted up the building and removed the original foundation composed of tree stumps and fieldstone and rebuilt it with concrete block featuring a stone veneer. New shingles have been put on the gable roof, concrete stairs added at the entrance and the interior got a fresh paint job.

Some of the original wainscoting is still there as is the school's first electrical outlet, which still works.

But by and large, the tiny school on West River Road with its large double-hung windows and replica wood-burning stove has retained its character, and still looks much like it did when Marian Robertson attended Dunning from first through eighth grades in the late 1930s through the mid-1940s.

"It's nice," the 93-year-old said Saturday as she strolled through the school, noting the historical society's efforts to maintain the building.

Framed pictures of early U.S. presidents and the roster of teachers who taught at Dunning adorn the walls. Wooden desks reminiscent of those used during the era fill the center of the classroom while tables along the walls feature globes, flashcards, pamphlets, books and small chalkboards like those students used at their desks to complete their lessons — no Chromebooks back then.

Also among the artifacts is a black-and-white picture from 1940 featuring Robertson and all her classmates.

"I can name everyone" she proudly said.

Though the walls can't talk, Robertson has many stories to tell of her time at Dunning, where boys chopped wood for the stove and students wrote their name on the chalkboard to notify the teacher they'd gone to the outhouse. She said "it was a privilege" to get the job of drawing water from the nearby well.

Robertson said she remembers Christmas programs. But what really made Dunning a memorable place was that "the older kids helped the young ones," said Robertson, who graduated in 1949 from Anoka High School, which was "really big" compared to her one-room schoolhouse.

"I still dream about not being able to find my locker," she said.

Dunning was built after the District 99 school board in January 1876 issued $400 in bonds. The school enrolled between 15 and 54 students annually until it closed, the Champlin Historical Society said on its registration form turned in to the National Park Service.

After Dunning closed, the school functioned as the Champlin Township Hall until the township and neighboring Champlin Village merged in 1971 to create the present-day city of Champlin.

The Brooklyn Historical Society once refurbished the school in 1973. The Champlin Historical Society was reborn in 1997 and has looked after Dunning ever since.

Shannon McNellis and her mother, Jasmine, stopped by the school to step back in time.

"It's cool," said Shannon, noting how different it is from her modern-day school. Asked if she'd want to attend a one-room schoolhouse, "I'd try it, at least for a week."

Mike Brey, vice president of the Champlin Historical Society, led the effort to get the school on the Register. He worked with the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) to get its blessing, then got a small committee together to document Dunning's history. MHS signed off on the application and sent it to the National Park Service for review.

In March, the Park Service deemed Dunning worthy of the distinction, writing, "the property retains integrity to its period of significance, and continues to serve an important asset to the community of Champlin."

On Saturday, it all became official.

"It's been a long two years to push through," Brey said. "We are very happy."