Amid the lavender-blooming, berry-picking, hay-baling days of summer in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, the historical Dungeness Schoolhouse was undergoing a colorful transformation the likes of which hasn’t been seen for decades.
In the past three months, the two-story structure at 2781 Towne Road in Sequim and owned by the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley (MAC) has been power washed, paint-scraped, primer-coated and freshly painted to further preserve the weather-worn, 1892-built building and reflect its original color scheme.
“The Dungeness Schoolhouse has a history of being well-loved and preserved in the community and we’re continuing that tradition and ramping it up a notch,” MAC Executive Director DJ Bassett said. “One of the biggest problems with the preservation of historical structures is lack of use. The Dungeness Schoolhouse is an integral part of the Museum & Arts Center and we are working to increase its use, including having it open to the public on an ongoing basis.”
With the project now complete, the MAC plans to celebrate with an old-fashioned community pie social at the schoolhouse from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Numerous volunteers and supporters, and some local eateries including The Red Rooster Grocery, are donating pies, which will be offered with whipped cream, coffee, tea, punch and ice cream for a suggested donation.
While enjoying the refreshments, visitors also will have an opportunity to chat with several longtime area residents, some of whom attended the Dungeness School as children, about their memories of days gone by in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. Among them will be Virginia Erwin, who followed in her mother’s footsteps in serving on the MAC’s Dungeness Schoolhouse Volunteer Committee.
“I think the schoolhouse looks wonderful,” Erwin, a longtime MAC member, said of the repainted structure. “It’s nice to see that it’s looking so good and that it’s being utilized for many different kinds of activities, which is good for the schoolhouse and good for the community.”
While the colorful new exterior of the schoolhouse may appear a striking cosmetic difference, the restorative nature of the project is more than surface deep. Port Angeles-based Northwest Inside Out Painting Inc., which was contracted for the repainting project, began the project in June with several weeks scraping and prepping the building before applying two coats of oil-based, stain-blocking, bonding primer followed by two coats of Rodda Horizon Green Seal-certified paint that is low VOC and mold-resistant.
“The weather combs out the soft wood in the siding and makes it look really rough in places. From the street, when you stand back on it, she’s beautiful,” said Northwest Inside Out Painting Inc. owner Pam Boyd, who began her business 22 years ago, of the schoolhouse. “We tried to keep the paint as low sheen as possible to minimize visual imperfections while still providing weather resistance.”
Rodda Paint in Sequim donated the 30-40 gallons of off-white-to-cream-colored paint used on the body of the schoolhouse and custom-mixed the 15 gallons of the paint applied to all window and door casings, fascias and other trim, and the concrete foundation. The trim paint, dubbed “Dungeness red,” was made of inorganic mineral pigment that is fade-resistant.
Project assistance also came from Savage Glass Services of Sequim, which was hired to reglaze numerous windows that had brittle and/or crumbling glazing in order to seal them from weather and cold air, and replace glass panes on numerous damaged and/or previously painted-over windows.
Boyd said she worked in conjunction with the glass company by synchronizing schedules and sharing as needed the two on-site 40-foot boom lifts at her disposal to minimize costs. She also facilitated the repair of the schoolhouse’s crumbling concrete foundation.
“I knew the project would be big when we took it on. The bulk of unpleasantness came from the weeks of scraping,” Boyd said. “The nicest thing is seeing something go from yuck to grand. It was a diamond in the rough.”
The repainting project is the latest step in the MAC’s continuing commitment and efforts to preserve the local historical landmark, which operated as a school from 1893-1955 and has been owned and operated by the MAC since 1995. Countless volunteer hours have been invested into the building’s upkeep over the years and funding through MAC fundraisers such as its annual Christmas Tea & Bake Sale as well as private donations has provided for the completion of this project and ongoing maintenance and repair needs. Over the years, such projects have included repairing the building’s distinctive belfry and building an ADA access ramp in 2006 and performing fire code and safety upgrades this past January.
“The Dungeness Schoolhouse is a beautiful community treasure. The restorative paint job makes it sparkle like a jewel,” said MAC Program Coordinator and Board of Trustees Secretary Priscilla Hudson. “It needs constant maintenance and the support of the Sequim-Dungeness community so we may all benefit from its use.”
The two-story structure, which was designated a Washington State Historical Site in 1971 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, remains a vibrant community resource as the site of numerous programs, meetings and special events ranging from wedding receptions and birthday parties to family reunions. Located approximately five miles north of Sequim in rural Dungeness, the building’s downstairs classroom and upstairs auditorium, which features a stage and views of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley and Olympic Mountains, are available for rented use by businesses, organizations and individuals year-round. Rental fees help support ongoing building maintenance costs.
“I think it’s great for the schoolhouse to look so spruced up, which helps the community,” said Dungeness resident Ellen Russell, who works within eyesight of the schoolhouse as the co-manager of Nash’s Farm Store. “I was hiking to the top of the Deer Park viewpoint recently and I could see Dungeness because of the new paint and red roof of the schoolhouse. It stands out and it’s gorgeous.”
Additional information about the Dungeness Schoolhouse, including its history and a printable rental agreement form, can be found on the MAC website at www.macsequim.org. Rental agreement forms, which include rental rates and a detailed facility description, also are available at the MAC Exhibit Center, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim, and the MAC’s DeWitt Administration Center, 544 N. Sequim Ave. in Sequim. Those interested in renting the schoolhouse are asked to call 582-0584.
Reneé Mizar is the communications coordinator and executive assistant at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.