The present reflects the past

In 1920, the Creswell Civic Improvement Club (CCIC) recorded that its February meeting was postponed “on account of the flu ban.” I reflect on that simple sentence and wonder how Creswell was affected during the devastating 1918-1920 Spanish flu epidemic. In the same minutes, “Sunshine Committee reported several calls and delicacies for the ill and shut-ins.” This is a common monthly report, along with “Condolences were sent to …”  

One hundred years later, Creswell is again under a “flu ban” and its citizens are calling and watching out for the ill and shut-ins. And sending condolences. I wonder how this period will be viewed by citizens 100 years from now. Time marches on and we are connected by common experiences to those who came before and those who will follow.

During those years, the Creswell Civic Improvement Club was meeting at members’ homes. Its membership continued to grow and it needed a larger space. So, in 1927 the club purchased the building on South 2nd and D streets that had most recently been a Baptist church, but was also used by the Red Cross during World War I. They remodeled it into their clubhouse and referred to it as “The Club” or “The Civic.” We know it as the Old Schoolhouse or the Old Library.  

It was a two-story building when it was built in 1875 as Creswell’s first school on the northeast corner of 5th Street and Oregon Avenue. We know that the roof was lowered after a fire in the second story and that a new school was built in 1897 north of the first. No written record of the fire has been found nor a written record of when it was moved to its current location. 

While it was “The Civic,” in addition to being the base for many ambitious community projects, it housed a community library under the supervision of a librarian appointed by the Club. Over time, the library became the most important service of the Club, but their membership dwindled and they found it hard to maintain the building. 

In 1979, the library became a branch of a short-lived Lane County Library Association, which ended in 1988. Volunteers continued to operate the library until a tax-supported library district was created in 2004 and the library moved in 2006. The building has been vacant since then.

In 2017, the Creswell Heritage Foundation was organized with its first goal the preservation of the old schoolhouse/old library. A restored “Civic” will once again be a public meeting place, honoring the legacy of the Ladies of the Club and serving as a reflection of the past.

Information about the restoration will be in a later article in the “May is Historic Preservation Month” series.  

Verlean McCoy is the president of the Creswell Heritage Foundation.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos