Building Description English Settlement School, Oakland Oregon
The English Settlement School is located in the vicinity of the City of Oakland among the region's rolling hills and prairies. The building itself is a simply adorned rectangular, one-story, wood-frame, front-gabled, one-room schoolhouse resting on a foundation of basalt field stones. Openings include regularly placed four-over-four double-hung windows and two wood-paneled doors. The interior consists of a single room with a vestibule and two cloak rooms set to the east end, which are finished with bead-board wainscot, siding, and ceiling boards.
The English Settlement School is located at 17455 Elkhead Road in rural Douglas County, approximately eight miles northeast of the City of Oakland. Situated in flat east-sloping area in a ravine between the region's rolling hills, the schoolhouse sits in its original location aligned on an east-west axis. The entry faces east toward the outside bend of a prominent curve on Elkhead Road. A seasonal creek runs on the east side of the lot between the school and the road among a lightly-treed camas-flower prairie. The south facade of the building features two heritage rose bushes, daffodils, and other period foundation plantings. A fence of metal posts, woven-wire field fence, and barbed wire runs along the east and south property lines, and a modern metal gate hung on wood posts is situated on the southeast corner to control access to the gravel drive from Elkhead Road. A non-contributing historic well lies approximately 35 feet north of the schoolhouse, and is capped with modern fittings. No other buildings, structures, or objects are located on the property. Views from the school include pastured hills rising on all sides and Elkhead Road to the immediate east.
The English Settlement School building is a rectangular, one-story, wood-frame, front-gabled, one-room schoolhouse. Measuring 22' by 36', the schoolhouse is supported by its original system of wood girders and floor joists set on hand-placed field stones with the exception of the foundation on the north and west sides that were replaced with pressure-treated dimensional lumber and concrete footings. Mill-sawn tongue-and-groove flooring laid on an east-west axis complete the floor structure. The frame is balloon construction with a truss roof system. The building is covered with a medium-pitch front-facing gable roof clad in corrugated-aluminum sheets.
Mill-sawn shiplap siding, corner boards and frieze boards finish the exterior. The shiplap cladding exposure is 5". The mostly knot-free siding is nailed to the balloon-framed structure approximately 24" on center with round-head wire nails. The corner boards are approximately 6" wide and are attached with earlier square nails, thus suggesting that the builder ran short of the round-head nails toward the end of construction. The corner boards on the southwest corner are missing. The barge board encircling the roof line measures approximately 1" by 12" and is overhung by boxed eaves. The exterior of the schoolhouse was originally painted white, but it is now almost devoid of paint and the siding is weather-worn.
Three wood double-hung four-over-four windows measuring 28" wide by 68" tall are symmetrically placed on the north and south facades, each with a decorative crown molding. Glass panes measure 16" by 12"; however, much of the original glass and parts of the muntins are missing. A modern one-over-one window is located on the northeast corner of the north facade. The main entrance is centered on the front-gabled east facade, with a 6' x 2' rough-cut basalt field stone placed as a step. The four-panel door with tall rectangles placed over smaller square panels has decorative crown molding, and a single hopper window is placed over the top. On the south facade above the east-most window there is a round opening, apparently for a chimney pipe, cut through the siding. A rectangular metal plate with a semicircle cut out to accommodate the pipe is placed on the top half of the opening. The pipe is no longer present, leaving the space open to the elements. On the west facade there are two rectangular openings in the siding. One at the gable cuts through the siding. The other is set to the north side and has been boarded from the interior. A horizontally placed board approximately 5' in length is placed above it. The purpose of the openings and the board are not clear. On the same side, the remnants of electrical wire and a ceramic insulator are present. A two panel door is set on the southwest corner. The two-panel door has a single rectangle placed over a smaller square panel. The door lacks the decorative crown molding present on the main entry.
The building's interior consists of a large classroom with a small entry vestibule and two cloak rooms placed on the east end of the building. The main door on the east facade swings inward and opens to a vestibule measuring 10' 6" x 7' 9". On the west wall of the vestibule are two wood-plank doors with overhead openings. The doors open in toward the vestibule and provide access to the classroom, which measures 28' 3" x 22' 0". A cloak room measuring 7' 9" and separated by a 7' partition is placed on each side of the vestibule. The plank doors for each cloak room open into the space from the main classroom. Although its placement is still evident by nail marks and missing paint, the partition between the north cloak room and the vestibule has been removed. Evidence of electrical lighting installed after the building's original construction is demonstrated by four equally-spaced ceramic light fixtures placed on the ceiling of the classroom and another centered in the vestibule.
Interior finishes include a vertical bead-board wainscot measuring 3 ⅓" wide and extending approximately 3' from the floor. The wainscot is topped with a 2 ¾" decorative chair rail. The chair rail in the northwest corner of the building is missing. Walls above the wainscot are clad in horizontally placed bead board and the same material is used to enclose the rafters, but it is placed on an east-west axis in contrast to the flooring that is set on a north-south axis. Quarter round molding finishes the floor and the ceiling. Windows are trimmed with 3 ¾" x 1" molding and have 3 ½" sills. Nail marks and missing paint on the north wall between the two west-most windows indicate a 5 1/2' partition once divided this area from the rest of the room. Windows on the south side of the building have attachments for window shades, but the coverings are not present. An opening for a chimney for a wood stove is centered in the main classroom, but apparently was removed. On the west wall a large 2" x 6" board is nailed diagonally across the wall to support it, and there is evidence of a now missing shelf along the west wall. A nailed square piece of plywood covers an opening on the same wall.
Although the Douglas County Historic Building Inventory lists the building's construction date as sometime after 1870, this is apparently incorrect as it references an earlier school building. Local historian Larry Moulton compiled a book on Douglas County school history and indicates that the first school for the English Settlement community was constructed of hand-hewn timbers or log in 1854 or 1855. The building was located one mile to the south of this school on Oldham Creek. Moulton speculates that a second school, probably board-and-batten style, was built around 1875 "north of Power's barn" on the other side of Elkhead Road, which was later moved to a hill north of Wilber on Highway 99. However it is unclear whether such a building was ever constructed or where it may have been located. No documentary evidence has yet been found that definitively dates the current English Settlement School; however, a thorough examination of the building's construction by Oregon State Historic Preservation Office staff and local oral histories indicate that this particular school was built around 1910.
Sometime during the building's history electricity was installed as evidenced by the remains of four screw-in light bulb sockets on the ceiling and exterior electrical equipment. Other evident additions that presumably occurred during the building's use as a school includes the additions of a wood stove pipe, a single one-over-one double-hung window on the northeast corner, and several cutouts made on the west facade. Archival photos available at the Douglas County Museum show that a woodshed and privy were located behind the school during its operation. These were removed at an unknown time and the exact locations of these sites cannot be determined due to ground disturbance by cattle. Other alterations include the removal of a partition on the north wall and a shelf on the west wall. Last used as a school in 1930, the building has since been vacant, with domestic animals using it for a shelter and wild animals as a home. Within the last two decades plywood was placed over the windows and the main entrance, leaving the rear door for access. Presumably the shingle roof was removed and the building was clad in corrugated aluminum sheets in the same period. During this process the original corbelled brick chimney was removed. In 2005 the recently formed Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association cleaned out the animal manure from the inside of the school and secured the back door with a lock. The organization also cleaned out the weeds and brush around the building and the grounds. In the same year the Douglas County Parks Department removed deteriorated siding on the lower 1' of the building on the north, east, and west sides, replaced rotten foundation joists, and leveled the building on new cast-concrete block foundation. Several of the original foundation stones and much of the original foundation still supports the building. The removed siding was not replaced. As part of the repair work the County installed a French drain along the north and west sides of the building approximately 15' from the foundation to carry away the winter seepage that caused the structural problems. A historic well on the property has been caped with modern fittings, and thus is considered a non-contributing feature.