With the fate of the old Carus Schoolhouse, known as the White Building, on the line, a group of local residents has emerged with plans to save the historic structure from demolition and relocate it to nearby Beavercreek to serve as a community center.
The group, known as the Friends of the Carus Historic White Schoolhouse, formed earlier this year and is working with the Hamlet of Beavercreek to save the nearly 100-year-old former school building, which is located at the corner of Carus Road and Highway 213.
The Canby School District has for more than a year and a half sought to sell the building for the bargain price of $1 — with the understanding that the buyer would assume the costs of removing and relocating the structure.
The project is part of planned work at the Carus Elementary School campus made possible through the $75 million capital improvement bond the district’s voters approved in May 2020.
In January, district officials confirmed they were working with a “serious buyer” who hoped to acquire and relocate the two-story, 4,720-square-foot schoolhouse, but those plans fell through in late March, according to Chris Ritter, chair of the new committee.
“This committee has been working nonstop to secure the transportation of the building to an appropriate Carus location and the various services needed,” Ritter told the Current in an email.
“The goal is to offer this historic building to The Hamlet of Beavercreek community as a center to meet, enjoy theater, hold classes, sell local products, celebrate, and enjoy community.”
She added that the group is working with Clackamas County to secure a land use application for a new permanent site. The committee hopes to share more about their plans and progress once approval from the county is in place.
“We look forward to continuing the story of this 1926 schoolhouse that has served our community for nearly 100 years,” she said.
Ritter said the group’s goal is to move the schoolhouse by July 1 to meet the district’s plans for rebuilding the parking lot at Carus Elementary School.
Built in 1926 and deeded to Clackamas School District No. 29 by Isaac and Constance Farr, was completed in the Craftsman style.
It includes lap siding, exposed rafters, purlins and brackets, wood double-hung windows, a gabled porch with enclosed balustrade and decorative truss, and a main entry paneled with transom and sidelights.
The White Building has served the Carus area as a schoolhouse, meeting hall, community center and Sunday school for the Methodist Church over the decades. It was used as a school until the 1970s, and as administrative offices until the early 2000s.
It was one of only two schools in the Oregon City/Beavercreek area that dates to the Motor Age (1914 to 1940) and was noted for the high quality of its design and construction — which was unusual for non-residential properties built in that period.
It was left vacant in 2005, and the front entry was gated off and the rear staircase was removed in 2018. The White Building is on the list of designated historical sites for both the state and Clackamas County.
The building’s location on the site and separation from the main school building prevents it from meeting safety, ADA, seismic and other requirements for a public school. With the proposed demolition, aspects of the building will be retained, including artifacts such as the exterior sign.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!