As I was preparing a post about Portland Public Schools and their recent Historic Building Assessment, I found out that Marysville School at SE 77th & Raymond was on fire. According to preliminary reports, the school was badly damaged if not entirely gutted. Not exactly the way I wanted to start our new blog. A sad day indeed.
The good news is that Portland Public Schools has recently completed the survey of all of their school buildings district-wide. So if you are interested in school building in your neighborhood or anywhere else in the city for that matter, we encourage you to check out the PPS website.
It is clear from this report that a number of school buildings are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Schools that met this standard, include Winterhaven (Brooklyn), James John, Franklin High School and, much to my dismay, Marysville. A number of schools however, were seen as either not significant enough or not retaining enough of their historic integrity for designation.
The Historic Building Assessment is useful and informative, but one thing it is lacking is consideration of what these buildings actually mean to the community. It is hard to define social and cultural connections in such a study and that wasn’t really the purpose of the project anyway. But this is why it is important to be proactive in preserving our neighborhood schools. The time to pursue preservation and ongoing use of our historic school buildings should come long before calls for demolition even begin.