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Memories fill historic schoolhouse

Ruby McFarland
Special to the Appeal

Our little historic school building that houses a museum with the Dayton Valley Historical Society displays is a wonderful edifice in our community. From the beginning it was the school and social center of Dayton. It was a bona fide school for nearly a hundred years. Only when the mothers and fathers of the community wanted sanitary conditions in the school did it falter. They created a sit down strike to close the school because of the lack of inside toilets and running water so the kids could wash their hands. So because the school board didn’t act on the demands, the school was closed in 1959.

I’ve spent a lot of time at the old school on weekends and I have very loving feelings for the great old building. It’s made of native stone, with sand stone corners that the boys scratched their initials in over the years. The inside was plastered and black boards were all around the inside walls and still are there. There were two rooms, one for the first to fourth grades, the other fifth through eighth.

Every old timer in Dayton went to school there and most of their children, too. It tickles me when people come in, all ages, and tell me where they sat. And they like to tell about the teachers they had and how much they learned. It’s obvious that the kids received a wonderful education from the amount of celebrity folks who went to school in the old school house. One such is Clark Guild, a judge, and much loved man. But in my eyes, all the folks who got their education in the wonderful old school are celebrities.

Since the school became the museum, we have had folks who love it enough to try to take care of this great old building. To start with the old linoleum flooring had to be cleaned off of the pine board flooring. Everyone worked on scraping the linoleum and tar so that the original floor could be exposed.

The windows are one of the very few triple hung windows around anywhere. As a matter of fact, I’ve only seen triple-hung windows once before and that was a one-room school built about the same time.

We have a volunteer now who spends a lot of time on the outside of the building trying to keep it repaired. Ron Rowe painted the entire building last year and all the fences this year. The roof on the vestibule needed to be replaced and Ron took care of that, too. Ron is one of our volunteers in a crew that I think are the “best in the west.” Come visit and enjoy a piece of living history. Bring a child and give them a treat to remember as they imagine what it would have been like to go to school there.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley: NO REGULAR MEETING in December.

Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. Hours: Sat 10-4 & Sun 1-4. Historical lectures on Saturdays at 11 a.m. The web site is daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-8382 or 246-0441.

– Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and a docent at the museum.