It’s official: The Canby School District has sold the old Carus Schoolhouse, also known as the White Building, to a local nonprofit, with crews on site this weekend to begin the arduous process of removing the historic structure intact and relocating it up the road to its new permanent location.
Dubbed the Friends of the Carus Historic Schoolhouse, the new group is devoted to preserving and restoring the beloved schoolhouse and is working with Wolfe House & Building Movers to relocate it to nearby Evans Farms in order to save it from demolition.
The current Carus School building has been in need of an improved parking area for years, and with the passage of the Canby school bond in May 2020, the district was granted the funds needed to make those improvements.
As a result, the Canby School District made the decision to either sell the White Building to someone who could move it, or demolish it.
The district had previously announced it was working with a “serious buyer” last fall, 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, a retired longtime teacher at Carus and president of the new nonprofit, who was already hard at work on a Plan B.
That same month, the Canby School District notified Ritter that her plan B was now plan A, and she sprang into action.
Ritter, who had by then been joined by several other community members, has been working every single day to ensure the building’s safe relocation to Evans Farms, a family-owned and operated nursery since 1857.
It’s a fitting home for the 1926 Craftsman-style building to be moved, as not only have seven generations of the Evans family attended Carus School, but the family lineage includes Clarance Evans, one of the original builders of the schoolhouse — who milled timber from the farm to construct the building.
“It makes my heart happy to know this schoolhouse, a place of great historical, architectural, and community significance, is one step closer to being saved,” said Ritter. “However, there’s still a lot of work to be done — and a lot of funds that need to be raised — in a very short amount of time.”
Wolfe House & Building Movers began work on the historic schoolhouse Friday, June 23, in order to move the building in time for the new parking lot work to also be completed during summer break.
But the Friends group says saving the two-room schoolhouse is just the beginning. According to their website, the group hopes to not only save the building from demolition, but repurpose it as a gathering space for the Beavercreek community.
However, that will take major support from the community. Although the Friends of the Carus Historic Schoolhouse has already received $55,000 from two generous donors, they estimate they will need to fundraise $100,000 to complete the move.
An additional $250,000 will need to be raised to renovate the building, which the Friends group intends to match with grants.
“For the community of Carus, the school is what has tied us together for over 100 years,” the group says on its website. “And for almost as long, this beautiful Craftsman building has been our landmark.
“Every historic building you see today exists because a group of people who cared about it took action. This is our moment to do the same for the White Building, and in the process, create something new for us to share.”
The Friends of the Carus Historic Schoolhouse is a local nonprofit consisting of former Carus students, parents, teachers and community members devoted to the preservation and rejuvenation of the White Building.
To learn more, make a tax-deductible donation or volunteer, donors and community members are asked to visit carushistoricschoolhouse.org.
Deeded to Clackamas School District No. 29 in 1885 by Isaac and Constance Farr, the White Building was one of only two schools in the Oregon City/Beavercreek area that dates to the Motor Age and was noted for the high quality of its design and construction — which was unusual for non-residential properties built in that period.
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.
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.
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