OREGON – Anyone who was around the Oregon area on Aug. 11, 1998, probably remembers it well.
That was the day the old Chana School was moved from its original location in Chana to its current location just across River Road from Oregon Park East in Oregon.
“It was supposed to take less than two hours,” remembers Connie Stauffer, secretary of the Chana School Foundation of the move, which cost $15,000.
Instead, it took from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to move the school – which was cut in half for transport – the 7 and a half miles to its new home.
There were some problems along the way, of course, incuding trees that were supposed to be trimmed but were not getting in the way. One even went through a window of the old school. Power lines also caused some headaches. Traffic was stalled and the people waiting at the site for the noon arrival were probably disappointed.
“We had lots of people mad at us,” Stauffer said.
But it was worth it all to save the building, originally built in 1883 as a one-room school house. A second room was added to the building a decade later.
The school was in operation until 1953, and eventually fell into disrepair. It was to be destroyed by the Iowa company that bought the property the school was on in 1997. Stauffer said she and another person contacted the realtor of the property about saving the school.
They called just in time.
“He was going to cut the bell town off and make a gazebo for his back yard,” she said.
Instead, the plan was hatched to save the building and get it to a new home where it could be restored. Stauffer said they had a number of properties in mind, but the land on which it now sits, owned by the Oregon Park District, is a perfect location.
“I knew it had to be on public land because we’re not going to live forever, and they’ve been wonderful,” she said of the district.
The renovation of the school was completed in 2003, and Stauffer puts that cost at between $300,000 and $500,000. She said it was only possible through the help of volunteers and everyone in the county who supported the project, and continues to support the school.
In 2005, the school was added to the National Register of Historic places. It is currently available for functions and tours, and is a destination for school groups.
So, why were Stauffer and others so driven to save the old school?
“It just was right,” she said. “It’s for kids, it’s historical.”