You might be wondering about the pioneer schoolhouse at the home of Tom and Sue Hunton, which is near to the granary building where we have our programs at Singing Creek Educational Center.
Perhaps you have driven past it on your way to one of our events or camps. We’d like to tell you a little more about the history of this wonderful building, and the Hunton’s commitment to preserving our local history for all to enjoy.
We have our Grandparent’s Pioneer Tea and our Living History Festival at the schoolhouse each year, as well as “playing school” there one day each week during our pioneer summer camps.
The Camas Country Mill website does a great job of explaining about the history of this project. See the full article here: https://www.camascountrymill.com/the-schoolhouse-project/
The walls of the Lower Fern Ridge School still show the graphite signatures of local school children from over 100 years ago.
One hundred years ago, the distinct silhouettes of one-room schoolhouses were rural anchors in areas across the west, much like stone grist mills, which existed to support isolated local communities. Left to decay in the wake of rapid modernization, we believe these pieces of living history are worth reviving, preserving, and sharing. As we work on-farm and at the mill to reinvigorate local grain raising and milling, we are also preserving this schoolhouse as a community asset for all to enjoy.
Anyone who drove Alvadore Road knew the building–the weather-worn siding and abrupt facade tucked behind plum trees, a quietly decaying relic that stood out against neighboring metal outbuildings.
When the school was slated for a new life as scrap wood, Tom and Sue Hunton were compelled to make an offer, move the schoolhouse on farm, and attempt to restore it. Sue’s background as a school teacher and her ongoing commitment to education, Tom’s penchant for taking on ambitious projects, and a shared desire to preserve the living history of the area led to their purchase of the schoolhouse from generous neighbor Sonja Davidson.
Watch the heartwarming video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooAHprxjSyY
Moved across the fields and over the creek to it’s new home at ‘Rose’s Place’ on Hunton’s Farm, work on the schoolhouse moved quickly, thanks to the tremendous effort of friends, neighbors, and mill manager Steve Jones. Lifted off the boulder-like rocks that served as its foundation for decades, Tom Mains gave the schoolhouse a solid foundation, custom siding from Majestic Forest Products replaced the bowed-out original, and Northwest Door and Sash created stunning windows. The orchard was pruned, blackberries ripped out, garden planted…and we opened our doors on Memorial Day to let the community see the progress. Ms. Juni Fisher played two evenings of western ballads, and folks milled around late past sunset, boots and sandals shuffling across the floors again. Lew Bailey, a WWII veteran and last living student of the school, rang the original bell to inaugurate the schoolhouse’s new life.
Since we opened our doors, we have hosted two weddings, numerous holiday parties, children’s summer pioneer camp, and the first annual Camas Country Pie Baking Contest–and the best is surely yet to come! Come see the schoolhouse when you visit the Camas Country Schoolhouse Bakery and Store, and see enjoy restoration in progress!
Thanks to the support of the Oregon Travel Philanthropy Fund, you can see our schoolhouse featured on the Travel Oregon website here.