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Historic Corvallis School Moving

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – It’s not every day a house is moved, but crews are preparing to hoist a century-old school house onto a truck for a short move in Corvallis this weekend.

The City Parks and Recreation Department says the Sunnyside School was built around 1911, and was converted into a house around 1930. The house now sits on the north end of 9th Street. The new owners of the house, Brett and Ronita Slayden, are developing the property, but instead of demolishing the school house, they have donated it to the City.

Brett Slayden says when he and his wife purchased the property in May 2013, they were not aware that the house used to be a school. He says after they had made plans to demolish it, a neighbor approached them in hopes of saving the structure.

“I’m really thankful for our neighbors sharing the history of the home site with us,” he said. “I think it’s great to be involved in preserving Corvallis’ history.”

The City Council voted to approve the donation a few months ago. An anonymous donor paid for the City to move the school house, where it will be relocated to Owens Farm just north of the hospital on Highway 99 in Corvallis.

However, going from one place to another requires going under some power lines, so the move will happen in two parts: the main structure will go up on a semi-truck, and sections of the roof will follow.

Owens Farm is an open space area the City also owns, where the school house will share a property with the Owen homestead.

“It’s important because it’s part of the heritage of this community,” said Jackie Rochefort, the Park Planner with the City of Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department. “Owens Farm was here since the mid 1800s and always lived in by the same family, and this was the school that served that family.”

She says the City will be fundraising to remodel the school house, and that it hopes to one day reopen it as a museum where students and members of the community can learn about old farming techniques.

“Above the porch was an old bell tower,” Rochefort said. “That is completely gone, and that’s what we intend to re-create. And if we find the original bell, we’ll install it. It’d be great.”

The move is scheduled to happen at dawn, or around 7 am Sunday morning. There may be traffic delays for about 15 minutes from the north end of 9th Street to Owens Farm on Highway 99.

“It’s part of our history,” Rochefort said. “It’s part of our culture. Saving that piece of history is an exciting thing to do. It’s sort of a gift to the community.”

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