Santa Clara Schoolhouse

The charming "Little Red School House" east of Santa Paula was built in 1896. It replaced two earlier schools: the first was opened in 1879 by farmers who had developed the area as early as 1871. That first year, thirty-five pupils were taught by Miss Martha Seward. Conveniences were few; there were no blackboards, books, or even desks - students sat on wooden benches brought in by parents when the school was built. There wasn't even an area for the students to play until they themselves cleared the sage and cactus.

In 1880, a new school was built on land donated by Henry Cook near the Santa Clara River. Erastus Ransome and Homer Coffee built the new school and crafted new desks as well. Though, like the first school, there was no playground, students were known to play on old adobe ruins across a ravine to the east (supposedly home to one of Leo Carillo's ancestors). Unfortunately, those ruins were washed away during heavy rains in 1884. In 1885, it was decided to move the school. J.N. Rosenberg was paid $35.00 to relocate the building to a new site across from the current schoolhouse.

By 1895, proposals were made to build yet another schoolhouse. After being put to vote, the new location was decided and a year later, the new schoolhouse was open with a final cost of $2,634.35. The schoolhouse, which was battleship gray until the 1960s, has continued to serve students ever since. It is one of only a few one-room schoolhouses still in operation in California today.

I Visited the Santa Clara Schoolhouse
2.15.2017

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