The Official Website of the Historical Dungeness Schoolhouse
Location: 2781 Towne Road, Sequim, WA
February 2013: The Dungeness Schoolhouse turns 120 this month! Join us at the schoolhouse on Feb. 27 @ 4-7 p.m. for a community-wide celebration to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the school's opening. CLICK HERE (and jump to page 14) to read more about the history of the schoolhouse in the Winter 2012 edition of "Living on the Peninsula," published by the Sequim Gazette.
May 2012: The MAC received the 2012 State Historic Preservation Officer's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation for its 17-year stewardship of the Dungeness Schoolhouse. CLICK HERE for details and CLICK HERE for photos from the awards ceremony. The schoolhouse also now has a WiFi connection!
Five miles north of Sequim along the banks of the Dungeness River stands a picturesque two-story building with a distinctive red-roofed bell tower built more than a century ago. This is the historical Dungeness Schoolhouse.
Surrounded by farmland and with breathtaking views of Dungeness Bay, the Dungeness Schoolhouse is not only an historical site and architectural landmark, but also a useful community treasure complete with a working school bell. In size, design, and detail, the schoolhouse reflects the excellent craftsmanship of early builders who used locally-harvested and milled lumber. Its most distinctive feature is the decorative bellfry with bell-shaped roof centered over the original two-room schoolhouse and upstairs auditorium.
Except for a two-story wing added in 1921 to provide more space, in-door plumbing, electric lighting, and central heat, the school retains its historic plan, architectural integrity, and many original features. One first-floor classroom was slightly modified for community use, but the other is preserved as an historical schoolroom exhibit that is open to the public by appointment. Many early class photos and educational artifacts are exhibited in this delightfully restored classroom.
Opening in February 1893, county superintendent-teacher Mr. A. B. Dorsey reported the school enrolled 63 students in grades one through five, one student in an "advanced course," and employed one teacher at $75 per month. Of the more than 40 rural schools in the county, only Dungeness School was to later offer a full high school curriculum. Although high school classes were discontinued in 1923, junior high classes were held until 1940, and elementary school classes continued until 1955, when Dungeness School District No. 29 consolidated with Sequim School District No. 323.
For nearly 10 years following the school's closure, the building was leased by the Dungeness Community Club and on August 3, 1967, the club purchased the property for the purpose of promoting the civic and social welfare of the community. The Women of Dungeness group was organized to help the Dungeness Community Club restore and maintain the building, and thanks to their efforts, the schoolhouse was designated a Washington State Historical Site on July 30, 1971, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 19, 1988.
In September 2011, a project to repaint the exterior of the schoolhouse to its original color scheme was completed, as were repairs to the building's foundation and windows. Northwest Inside Out Painting Inc. of Port Angeles, Savage Glass Services of Sequim, and Rodda Paint in Sequim all contributed to the project, as did numerous donors, supporters and volunteers. CLICK HERE to read about the completed project, and CLICK HERE to view the photo-documented progress on the MAC's Facebook page!
The Dungeness Schoolhouse came under the ownership of the Museum & Arts Center in January 1995. A volunteer schoolhouse committee meets on a regular basis to continue maintenance and restoration of the facility. One such endeavor was the building of a new access ramp, completed in August 2006 by Sunshine Rotary Club of Sequim. Another was the repair of the belfry following a report from Conservation Assessment Program grant in 2006. The report from Conservation Services in Whidbey Island found that the belfry needed repairs due to the age of the building. Over $12,000 was raised by MAC at the Fund-a-Need Auction during the MAC Nite Annual Fundraiser. The work was done by Tollefson Builders, who had conducted repairs in belfries throughout the region.
The schoolhouse also retains its educational heritage as a venue for classes and programs throughout the year. One first-floor classroom is available to rent for programs and classes, as well as weddings, family reunions, business seminars, and the like. A wide hallway and staircase with a chair lift leads to the second story, which features the auditorium with stage.
The above information was compiled by John Majors, retired Dungeness Schoolhouse manager, from sources including the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared February 1, 1988, by Leonard T. Garfield with research assistance from Mrs. Shirley Hill, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Olympia, Washington.