(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Community members trying to save historical building…
Several community members gathered last Thursday at the original Valley Schoolhouse, which is 100 years old and in danger of being torn down, to show their support of the project to preserve the historic building.
Stories of how the building contributed to their school experience in Valley were exchanged and signs were unfurled for a photo opportunty to be posted on their Facebook Page as part of the National “This Place Matters” campaign.
Two meetings coming up are very important to the “Save The Little White Schoolhouse” project. The Valley School Board meeting on April 19 at 6:30 p.m. will discuss the fate of the schoolhouse. There will also be a schoolhouse planning meeting a few days prior on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings are at the Columbia Virtual Academy building next to the Valley School (3030 Huffman Road).
The schoolhouse was built over 100 years ago to accommodate extra students in Valley. Still standing on its original site, the schoolhouse has been used over the years for Home Economic classes, shop classes in the basement, home for the superintendent, janitor’s home, social gatherings, a community church and, in its last years being used for school purposes it was a regular classroom. The basement was used for the boy’s locker room at times for the school as well.
Because of its historical value, the “Save the Little White Schoolhouse Project” is hoping to keep it as a reminder of history in the town of Valley.
Although nominated as a 2017 Most Endangered Historic Property, the schoolhouse could be demolished unless it is moved a short distance and restored and repurposed as a community museum and heritage center. According to Pat Mooney, who has done a significant amount of work to contribute to the project, the schoolhouse needs to be moved a distance of 250 feet max and rotated 90 degrees.
If the building is named a Most Endangered Historic Property then they’ll have help from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation to advocate for the schoolhouse and project.
The Valley School District has been very supportive, project organizer Melissa Silvio said, they just need a plan of what to do moving forward by spring. They’ve offered to help with some of the cost of moving the school. Silvio expects the entire project to be in three phases.
Phase One would be moving the school to a new location on a new foundation. Phase Two would be historically restoring the school to good condition. Phase Three would be to convert the school into a museum for the town of Valley. While some of the money has been raised for moving the schoolhouse, more needs to be raised in order for it to become a reality.
The Save the Little White Schoolhouse Project has a Facebook page (facebook.com/littlewhiteschoolhouse/) for people looking for more information and to follow the project as it unfolds. Organizers can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-937-2338.