The Schoolhouse Project

Schoolhouse History

Built in 1901 as the Lower Santa Clara School, this structure served as the primary school for residents of Fir Grove until the brick and mortar Santa Clara Elementary was built in 1932. In the intervening years it  was remodeled multiple times and used as a dwelling for decades.

The schoolhouse’s heyday would have been in the early 1900s when most social gatherings and religious services were held  in schoolhouses, the only public buildings with space enough to congregate in numbers.  That remains the truth for our neighborhood today with the exception of churches and our two granges.  We have needed community space not governed by religious affiliation or membership dues for a very long time.  

The city of Eugene bought the property in 2008 and designated it as part of the future Santa Clara Community Park. The former one-room schoolhouse and residence was slated to be demolished in 2018.  The Santa Clara Community Organization (SCCO) approached the City of Eugene with a plan to restore and preserve this local iconic house to serve as a community resource.  The City agreed to donate the building to SCCF and allow them to continue under their own steam. 

Santa Clara Community Park – Phase 1 Design. Construction set to start in March 2024. The schoolhouse is located at 990 River Loop 2 near the playground and event plaza.

For more information about the park see the Santa Clara Community Park Master Plan


Our plan is to return it to its one-room glory, thoroughly renovating the interior to create a place for neighbors to hold meetings, host classes and events, gather, and celebrate all that is unique about Santa Clara today.  The building will remain on  Santa Clara Community Park land, but will be owned and operated by the Santa Clara Community Foundation.  Surrounded by parkland with adjacent playground features, this resource is uniquely situated to provide a nexus for building social capital and creating a hub for neighborhood activity.  It will also be attractive as a rental for a variety of events and other uses. There is community support for preserving a small piece of our heritage and reengaging with it to serve the present needs of our neighbors.  The process to get from here to there is not direct but is rich with possibility.  Our intention is to build community resilience while rebuilding the schoolhouse as a volunteer-run project that uses a network of neighborhood experience and goodwill and partners with local businesses to achieve the vision for this community resource.

The beauty of the schoolhouse project is that it will continue to become more integral to the neighborhood over time thereby garnering deeper and broader support from the neighbors.  

How to Participate

This is a community barn raising project-fully volunteer run and funded.  We welcome donations of all types and know that it will take the experience, goodwill, muscle, and enthusiasm of the entire community to bring this to fruition.  There are ample ways to volunteer-from the physical to the virtual to the financial. Whatever your talent, we can put it to good use.   Please visit our volunteer page to sign-up:  Volunteer for the Schoolhouse Project

If you’d like to provide a financial donation, please visit the SCCF donation page. Be sure to designate that your donation is for the Schoolhouse Project.

If you have materials to donate you think might be useful, please contact us and include “The Schoolhouse Project” in the message text.

Download and print The Schoolhouse brochure to share the project with friends and possible patrons.

The Restoration Plan

We know that having all the funds in hand before we begin is not feasible and have instead developed a strategy to phase the work and acquire funding for each phase at its inception.  We envision that most of the work will be done by volunteers thus greatly reducing the need for fundraising.  SCCO’s many decades of work in the neighborhood give us confidence that once work begins on the structure and transformation is tangible, support (both in-kind and monetary) will be forthcoming.

As a community organization, we have a long track record of organizing community events, work parties, meetings, ongoing projects (park adoption groups, a community garden, neighborhood planning), and engaging our neighbors on all levels.  This particular project will appeal to those who have little taste for the endless meetings but a great appetite for projects that make a tangible difference with a physical outcome. In anticipation of the day we would begin this project SCCO was given the opportunity to dismantle a two-story barn on the community park property and collect the materials for use in the schoolhouse project.  With two weeks to organize and complete what we could, upwards of 25 volunteers put in over 120 hours to carefully and safely salvage most of the structure in advance of the demolition crew.  We now have a ready supply of salvaged dimensional lumber from the barn deconstruction to use to construct an outbuilding to store furnishings for the schoolhouse and leave the interior uncluttered for maximal flexibility of use.

Lane County donated 140 year old heritage fir trees removed from River Road and a neighbor with a sawmill has milled cants for use as decking, interior finishing, and flooring.  A local millwright has agreed to dry and mill the wood for our use.  The millwork will complement the original construction of the schoolhouse.   We have a large group of skilled volunteers ready to begin working, a licensed contractor to oversee the project, and a retired contractor to consult on all phases of the work. 

For progress updates and news about the Schoolhouse project go to:

The Santa Clara Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded to foster community involvement and investment by organizing and funding projects that benefit the residents of Santa Clara.  Through this work we build a more resilient future for ourselves, future generations, and our environment.  The schoolhouse project is just one of the many initiatives we support in Santa Clara and we welcome your participation.   Your donations are gratefully accepted and fully tax deductible. To learn more about the Santa Clara Community Foundation go to:

If you would like to drive by the house it is located on the north side of the new Santa Clara Community Park, which is behind Madison Middle School. Address: 990 River Loop 2, Eugene, OR 97404.