Abandoned Applegate schoolhouse to reopen

APPLEGATE — A forlorn old schoolhouse will soon get back to what it does best: housing children eager to learn.

Applegate School officials say the school's historic brick building is one of the recipients of an Oregon Emergency Management seismic rehabilitation grant. Applegate, which houses kindergarten through eighth grade, is expecting about $826,000 to shore up the brick and structural supports of the almost 100-year-old building. Grants went to 13 public education buildings and 11 emergency services facilities throughout the state.

"It's pretty amazing we are going to be able to get students back inside," said Principal Stephanie Allen-Hart.

Construction started on Applegate School in 1910, and its doors were opened on Dec. 12, 1912. District officials decided to abandon Applegate School in 2000 when structural engineers determined the building wasn't sound.

At the time, the four large classrooms on the upper level housed grades one through four. Students were moved into temporary portable buildings, which are still in use.

Grades five through eight meet in a newer building on the same grounds, while the older building is currently used as a storage facility.

"The amount of money we need from the community was just too large and the project too huge to do then," said Kara Olmo, a community member who helped secure the grant for the project.

Last fall, local developer Aaron Ausland contacted Olmo about a seismic grant proposal he was working on with the city of Coos Bay. He thought the same state program would fit Applegate's needs.

Ausland donated his time to do the cost-benefit analysis, a job that usually costs about $5,000. Community groups stepped up and donated $5,000 to pay for an engineering study.

"This building is important to the community here. We don't have that many historical structures in Applegate," Olmo said. "We thought we had a good chance at getting a grant but we also knew there are a lot of buildings in Oregon in need of repairs."

Because the building was never condemned or placed on the National Historic Register, upgrading the structural integrity and making a few changes to the building will be easier to do, Olmo said. Allen-Hart looks out her office window every day at the building and knows it has the potential for being so much more than storage.

"It is exciting to think that a year down the road we will be able to use the building again" Allen-Hart said. "We have so many ideas. We are leaving it wide open at this time. We want to see what is available and what our possibilities are first."

The project will begin this summer and school officials expect it will take much of the next school year. Allen-Hart said it should be completed in time for the 2011-12 school year and the school's 100th anniversary.

"Our goal has always been to get our students back in the school but this doesn't impact just the school," Allen-Hart said. "It is important to so many in our community. Many of our (former) students now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren here."

Share This Story