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Archive for the ‘Community organizations’ Category

I found this synopsis of events leading to the beginning of Cabaret culture at the Community Center in my computer archives. It was put together about five years ago; i think i did it to help someone write an article that was part of a push to get funding. The renovation and expansion of the MRC offices upstairs, and the kitchen and bathrooms downstairs, was Phase One of a plan that should soon start taking the next step– pushing out the north wall to make room for a stage and dressing room, creating an even more entertainment-friendly venue. More than one lovely article could be written– this is only the outline of the earlier years.

So much has happened in this building, both as a school and in its many functions as the Community Center; important things in our lives (besides the obvious schooling and graduations) like friendship, play, drama and sports, parties and dinners, graduations, and now birthdays, memorials, baby blessingways and women’s circles, classes, workshops, breakfasts, and the ongoing work of the Mattole Restoration Council. At the MVHS’s Grange office we have a couple of binders of articles and pictures of the Community Center’s formation, and of the moving of the building across the street to its present location.

Brief history of Mattole Union School
and Mattole Valley Community Center connection

1859—Mattole School District established
1860—First building destroyed by falling tree (Humboldt Times, August 4, 1860)
1861—New school building completed (“according to county records,” says Book of Petrolia, p.56) on northwest side of North Fork creek
1862—Schoolbuilding burned down by vandals (Book of Petrolia)
1862—New two-storey wooden clapboard structure built about 100 yards east of the North Fork and north of the county road—near present Yellow Rose restaurant (Book of Petrolia)
1869—Mattole District counts 83 students, compared to Eureka’s 282 and Ferndale’s 54 (Humboldt Times, August 29, 1869)
1871—Or perhaps this is when the two-storey white clapboard school was built. Humboldt Times of August 26, 1871, states that “Trustees of the Mattole School District invite proposals for the building of a schoolhouse near Petrolia.” Also, some county records (according to History of Humboldt County Schools) date a “Petrolia School District” to 1871
1877—120 students in Mattole District; 57 at Upper Mattole (Humboldt Times, August 31, 1877)
1880s-90s—Ninety or more students in two classrooms (one upstairs and one down) covering twelve grades (Book of Petrolia)
1906—Schoolbuilding seriously damaged by April 18 earthquake. School held temporarily in Community Church (now Seventh-Day Adventist). Plans made by District Trustees to raise a tax and build a fine new school (Ferndale Enterprise, April 19, 1907)
1907—Contractor P.T. Petersen building new schoolhouse. (Ferndale Enterprise, April 19, 1907). Frank Adams and Jack Wright hired; some of the lumber from local mill run by Frank Etter. (Local newspaper clipping by Laura Stansberry Hunter Smith, 1962). Other wood is fine lightweight redwood hauled from Ferndale to Petrolia at 3000 feet per load by John Titus (Enterprise)
1907 or ‘08—Bell and its cast-iron frame salvaged from old school and placed in belfry atop new schoolbuilding, located on southeast crest of Crane Hill, in present grassy playfield just east of paved area. West end of building was main entry with a porch-wide flight of steps and eventually two separate doors. School begins here in fall of year (Book of Petrolia vs. memories of oldtimers at Petrolia Day—see Now… and Then, v1, n4)
1920s—Additional building (present office building) constructed separately, north of original building on site, as high school. Grades 1 through 11 taught through 1948, when students are sent to Ferndale on boarding-out basis, through agreement with their district (Book of Petrolia)
1924–Mattole Union District formed when Union Mattole School (located near Squaw Creek) is closed and the Petrolia “Mattole” School absorbs its students. (History of Humboldt County Schools, Vol. III)
1926—Mattole enrollment at low of about 10 (County records)
1950-51—Mattole average daily attendance is 15. One teacher (Directory of Public Schools, 1951)
1954-55—Larger population due to logging boom. Two teachers at Mattole School: 1-4 and 5-8 grades (Directory)
1956—Belfry torn down and bell taken to County Fairgrounds (Book of Petrolia)

Student body of Mattole Union School, 1955-56. Teacher for the upper grades was Mr. William Johnston, and for the lower, Mrs. Inez Johnson. Photo courtesy Tom Fisher


1962—Bell returned to school grounds (is now atop water tower on northwest end of school property). Map of Mattole Valley painted on inside west wall by students for Petrolia Day (Book of Petrolia)
Mid-1960s—Last graduation ceremonies held in old Mattole Union School building; henceforth held at Mattole Grange, as they had often been previously (1940s) (Memory of Ray Azevedo, 1960s school principal)
Early 1970s—Replacement classrooms set up at Mattole Union School site (Ray Azevedo); old schoolbuilding condemned as unsafe for use under Field Act for Earthquake Safety (MVCC archives)
1975—First meeting of the Mattole Valley Community Action Planning Committee in June (MVCC archives)
1977—Mattole Valley Community Center with more than 70 members negotiates with School Board for purchase of old school building. Sold for $100 (MVCC archives)
1978—Mattole School Song written by Dorothy Short
1978, August—Building pulled across street by volunteers to present location on west side of county road. Keeps old east-west orientation so that entries are reversed: the old back door now fronts the county road
1979, January—New front porch added, woodstove installed, electrical wiring completed. By March, building ready for use. By fall, Mattole Valley Preschool begins operation in old building; new office space upstairs, later to be the Mattole Restoration Council office, opened as library (Now… and Then, v1, n4)
1979, fall—First Cabaret held at Mattole Valley Community Center (MVCC archives)

The Mattole Valley Community Center in 2006, after first expansion

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