Pioneer Past Tops Historic Register

Schoolhouse makes history

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Two Rim country landmarks will take their place on the National Register of Historic Places in separate dedication ceremonies Saturday afternoon.

The Strawberry School and the Pine Community Center have been named to the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. The register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

The two dedication ceremonies will be followed by a presentation from Dr. Michael Anderson on the history of Pine. Festivities begin at the schoolhouse at 1:30 p.m. and then move to the community center at 2 p.m.

Strawberry School

The Strawberry School, a 30-by-20-foot one-room log schoolhouse on Fossil Creek Road, served as the public school for the children of Strawberry Valley from 1885 to 1916.

The building is now a museum owned by the Arizona Historical Society and operated by the Pine-Strawberry Archeological & Historical Society.

Pine Community Center Historic District

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The Strawberry School, a 30-by-20-foot one-room log schoolhouse on Fossil Creek Road, served as the public school for the children of Strawberry Valley from 1885 to 1916.

Consisting of four buildings on one block in the center of Pine, this historic district served as the focal point for early Mormon colonists who built their farms along Pine Creek.

The buildings include:

  • Pine LDS Ward Chapel

Completed in 1916, this woodframe building was Pine's first permanent LDS ward chapel. Its pressed-metal ceiling, and many original panel doors and hardware items remain intact. The Pine-Strawberry Elementary School District acquired the chapel to use for offices and a library when a new chapel was built in 1980. Today, it houses the Pine-Strawberry Museum.

  • Pine LDS Cultural Hall

Completed in 1931, this building immediately west of the chapel served as a venue for dances, dinners, plays, ice cream socials, Fourth of July celebrations, weddings, funerals, and as a polling place. The woodframe building features a massive sandstone chimney and fireplace, elevated stage, and dressing rooms. Owned by the school district, the building continues to serve the community as a cultural hall.

Melvin Van Vorst, president of the library board and former president of the Pine-Strawberry Historical Society, explained the hall's ongoing importance to the community.

"The Pine Cultural Center is the only meeting facility in Pine," Van Vorst said. "Where would we have had a meeting like we did Wednesday night (to provide information on the Cave Creek Complex fire that was threatening the community) if we didn't have it."

  • Pine Elementary School

Constructed in 1945 on the site of the Pine High School which burned down, the building served as Pine's elementary school until the 1990s. Situated on the northeast corner of the historic district, the original school had two classrooms and featured gabled entries. It is now a nonprofit thrift shop and additions serve as a dining hall and kitchen for Pine seniors.

  • Prefabricated Classroom Building

The fourth building is a woodframe modular unit behind the others that provided extra classroom space. It is not considered historically significant.

When a building or district is added to the historic register, it becomes eligible for grant money and gains a degree of protection from developers.

"With Pine not being a local unit of government, there's got to be some way to protect the property, and one of the protections is putting it on the National Historic Register so it can't be torn down to build a Wal-Mart or something like that," Van Vorst said.

See Related Story: Historic schoolhouse brings past into present

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