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A two-storied history worth celebrating

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by Reneé Mizar
Communications Coordinator, Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley


A bustling community school.

 

A dilapidated building restored.

 

A lively social center.

 

An award-winning example of exemplary historical preservation.

 

The Dungeness Schoolhouse has been many things over the past 120 years and all a result of persevering teamwork, dedication and community support.

 

That history is celebrated at the Dungeness Schoolhouse 120th Anniversary Party from 4-7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the two-story schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road in Sequim. All are invited to the free community celebration presented by the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, which has owned and operated the schoolhouse for the past 18 years.

 

“So many groups and individuals played a role in shaping the schoolhouse into what it is today — a vibrant, functioning historical structure unlike anything else anywhere,” said DJ Bassett, MAC executive director.

 

“Keep in mind, we’re talking about a building that has endured 12 decades’ worth of Dungeness weather, nearby floods, wear-and-tear, ownership changes and, most recently, being grazed by a van. For it to still be standing, let alone in tremendous condition overall, is truly remarkable and needs to be celebrated,” he said.

 

A ringing of the school bell opens the party, followed by guest speakers, including several Dungeness School alumni and Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire, who will read a special proclamation.

Linda Dowdell performs on the schoolhouse’s restored 1929 Chickering-built Brewster Grand piano and the Eden Valley Strummers lead singalong. Refreshments include birthday cake.

 

A commemorative button is available for a $2 donation.

Schoolhouse history

Built in 1892, The Dungeness School opened its doors to students on Feb. 27, 1893. It served the educational needs of Dungeness area youth for more than 60 years before dwindling enrollment hastened its closure and consolidation with the Sequim School District in 1955.

 

The Dungeness Community Club purchased the former school in 1967 and, with the Women of the Dungeness group, used the building for community functions for the next three decades. During that period, the schoolhouse was recognized as a Washington State Historical Site and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Ownership of the Dungeness Schoolhouse was transferred to the MAC in 1995. Last May, the MAC, along with as its supporters, community partners and volunteers, including the Dungeness Schoolhouse Volunteer Committee, was honored with a State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation for its stewardship.

 

MAC Program Coordinator Priscilla Hudson said the anniversary party is an opportunity to connect with those whose own personal histories intersect with that of the schoolhouse, including former students.

 

“Whether a person attended the school themselves or a parent did, or have some other connection to the schoolhouse, they are all part of its history,” said Hudson, who also oversees the MAC’s Oral History Program.

 

“Sharing those memories and recording those stories is how we keep history alive and learn new details about what came before. That’s what historic preservation and honoring the past is all about.”

 

To learn more, visit www.macsequim.org. For information about renting the venue, contact Dungeness Schoolhouse managers Mike and Kathy Bare at 683-4270 or schoolhouse@macsequim.org.

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