The building in Creswell on the corner of South 2nd and D Streets, across from the Creswell Bakery, is known as the old library or the old schoolhouse.
Further back in time, it was known as The Civic Club when the Creswell Civic Improvement Club owned it.
Before that it was the Baptist Church, when the Oregon Baptist Society owned it. Even further back in time, it was P. Noland’s hall. Before that it was just “the school” when it was Creswell’s first and only school.
Let’s start there and move forward. “The school” was built in 1875 on the NE corner of Oregon Avenue and 5th Street, across from the current Creswell Museum. It had two stories and opened in the Fall of 1875 with 30 students.
An article appeared in the Sept. 3, 1875, The New Northwest, Portland, OR that says, “The town of Creswell, Lane County, has a drug store, two grocery stores, two blacksmith shops, a hotel, and a large warehouse, six or seven residences, and a large two story school house has just loomed up in the midst of all these.”
By 1887 there were 55 students. By 1896 the school board was discussing how to deal with a further increase in numbers.
The March 13, 1897 Eugene City Guard reported, “The board of school directors of Creswell district is talking of selling the old school house and build the new one entirely of new materials. This would be better than to build onto the old one.” On March 20, 1897, they reported, “as soon as the spring term ends work will begin on the new school house.” And then, on Sept. 11, 1897, we find “The new school house is rapidly nearing completion.”
What happened to the old schoolhouse next is not clear from public records. Local lore has it that the school was then sold to the Oregon Baptist Society. However, “A Short History of Creswell,” written by Mary Anne Ziniker Maloof when she was a sophomore in high school and published in the Dec. 1964 Lane County Historian contains the following:
“When the time came that the people of Creswell decided to sell the school building, Please Noland bought it for $400.00 at an auction. Poor Please had really not meant to get the building and when he did get it, he didn’t know what to do with it. After it had stood vacant for several years, Mrs. Noland talked her husband into giving it to the Baptists so that they might have a church of their own.”
This seems to be corroborated by the following report in the April 23, 1898 Eugene City Guard, “The republicans of Creswell precinct met last Saturday in P. Noland’s hall and elected delegates to the county convention.”
Also unknown is exactly when the building was moved from its original location to its current one. Or when it was sold or given to the Oregon Baptist Society.
Mrs. Maloof, in the history cited above, says, “They took off the second story, put a steeple on the east and had themselves a church.”
In the Aug. 16, 1911, Eugene Daily Guard is the report that, “The Baptists of Creswell are circulating a paper in an effort to secure financial aid in repairing and repainting the church on Second and D Streets. They are meeting with flattering success and the edifice will soon present a different appearance.” So, we know it was moved between 1898 and 1911. Further research is needed to pin down when and by whom and to whom the lot on South 2nd and D street was sold.
The information in this article was obtained from original research done by Virginia Sherwood for the Creswell Heritage Foundation in 2019.
Verlean McCoy is President of Creswell Heritage Foundation
Next week: The Creswell Civic Improvement Club and the restoration of the old schoolhouse.