San Timoteo Canyon Schoolhouse

Long before being settled European-Americans in the 1800s, San Timoteo Canyon served as a passage between the San Bernardino Valley and the desert for the local Cahuilla people. Following the 1819 establishment of the San Bernardino de Sena Estancia and the 1851 arrival of Mormons in San Bernardino, ranches and homesteads formed in the canyon.

The first school in San Timoteo Canyon, a small adobe building, was built in 1856; prior to that school was held in barns or in the open. The Southern Pacific was built through the canyon in 1876, and by the early 1880s it was established that a new school building was necessary. John Frink, a prominent landowner in the canyon, donated a "one acre and two square rods" plot of land on February 21, 1882 with the stipulation that a new school must be built within a year, else the property reverts to him. Eugene Vandeventer, another landowner to the east of Frink, began construction on the new school using all Douglas Fir and completed the new building in early 1883.

Over the years, the school received various upgrades. Plumbing was installed in 1900, and a drinking fountain was built out front in 1925. Electricity was introduced in 1934. In 1937, however, the school was closed after being merged into the Beaumont School District and students were bussed to Beaumont. For the next 50 years, the old schoolhouse was intermittently used for Sunday school and community functions. In 1993, the building was sold to the Riverside County Parks Department. Plans were made for restoration of the now-rapidly-deteriorating schoolhouse, but ultimately fell through until 2002 when a five year project began to successfully restore the school to its original condition.

Today the San Timoteo Canyon Schoolhouse is maintained by the Riverside County Regional Park District. The schoolhouse looks much as it did in 1883, and is surrounded by pepper trees planted in 1918. It is currently open on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month and more information can be found here.

I Visited San Timoteo Canyon