The Georgetown Divide Recreation District, Native Sons of the Golden West and Greenwood Civic Organization are teaming up to make urgently needed improvements to the Greenwood Schoolhouse on Greenwood Road, but they also are calling on the help of community members. The historical building is badly in need of repairs, and although the Native Sons of the Golden West, Georgetown Parlor No. 91 has taken the task to its Grand Parlor and the Historical Preservation Fund for help, grant money provided will only cover the first phase of a two-phase restoration project.
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“The Native Sons are dedicated to the preservation of California’s history,” said Jim Shadle, past grand president and current secretary of the local parlor.
An active group of native men on the Divide, the NSGW has been involved in the restoration and refurbishing of a variety of California landmarks, including James Marshall’s cabin, the Monterey Customs House, Fort Ross, Sutter’s Fort and the Donner Monument.
The local parlor presented a proposal for the refurbishing of the Greenwood Schoolhouse to the GDRD board on Jan. 15, where the idea was met with great enthusiasm. A letter to the NSGW Historical Preservation Fund Committee on Jan. 23 also was received with enthusiasm and the local parlor has been awarded $6,500 for Phase 1 of the restoration project.
“We love these kinds of projects,” said current Parlor No. 91 President Jerry Stinson, a Black Oak Mine Unified School District independent study graduate who recently returned to the area. “We are construction people, pro community and pro history.” NSGW Georgetown Parlor No. 91 members will donate their labor, and Jerry Hoyt at Divide Supply in Greenwood is donating scaffolding. The custom milled cedar siding is already being created
Phase 1 of the project got underway in March. The schoolhouse was closed for at least three weeks, and GDRD Community Partners that use the facility have been notified. The front porch of the 100-plus-year-old building will be reconstructed with a “replica” that will not detract from the building’s historical appearance. Only Native Sons will be working on the exterior of the building, but community work parties are planned for the needed work inside the building, and on phase 2.
“Stage 1 would include replacing the siding and windows on the south wall and front of the building,” Stinson and the local parlor stated in the proposal to the GDRD. “It would also include replacing the front porch area. These parts of the building are the most at-risk portions. They expose the structural portions of the Greenwood Schoolhouse to the weather. The structural integrity of the front porch has already been compromised and is pulling on the front wall of the building. It is for this reason that Parlor No. 91 wishes to replace the porch with a replica.”
The proposal goes on to state that the windows in the schoolhouse would be “replaced with lifetime guaranteed double pane, vertically sliding, replica Milgaurd windows, a vapor barrier and new caulking would be applied to the building,” and no electrical or plumbing changes would be made to the building
Native Sons members Bill Elliott and Shane Simmons worked as construction foremen on the first phase of the project. Even with the involvement of the Native Sons and their members, the restoration of the building will require the help of community members through additional labor and monetary donations.
“Stage 2 would include replacing the siding and windows on the rear and north walls,” added the proposal. “Stage 2 will be the easiest portion of this project because parts of stage 1 will have included the south wall portion of the rear porch and the north wall portion of the front porch.”
It is this phase in which labor and monetary donations will be especially required.
“We are hoping to involve the community to raise funds,” said Elliott. “We want people to be reminded that the building is here, and that there is a community park here, as well.”
Phase 2 is expected to be completed by May 2015, at which time the Native Sons will dedicate it at their annual Pioneer Days Celebration. Recognition also will be given to the community that rallied to protect the building and continue to preserve California’s history.
Originally built in 1855, the Greenwood Schoolhouse burned and was rebuilt a couple of times throughout the decades. The final destruction of the building occurred in 1903. After being rebuilt once more into the structure it is today, it served as the town’s school until 1956 when El Dorado Country closed it and deeded the building to the Greenwood Civic Organization to be used as a community hall. GCO maintained it throughout the years until 2009 when major repairs, and lack of funds and membership led the organization to reluctantly relinquish the building to the GDRD. Through both organizations the building’s needs have been met, but the current problems go beyond the scope of either.
“The Native Sons of the Golden West heard of the dilemma and, as an organization committed to preserving the history of the Golden West, found a fit with their mission,” said GCO past president Gail McGonigle. “They are comprised of builders, contractors and others skilled in construction, and they are well versed in historical methods and materials. They stepped forward, cleared county hurdles and received grant money.”
Anyone interested in helping with any aspect of either phase of the restoration project is invited to contact Liz Phillips by e-mail at [email protected] or Lou Tuttle at [email protected] The GCO is a GDRD Community Partner, as is the restoration project itself.