Adelaida School: An artful renovation

Paula and Kevin Jussila have a fondness for the one-room Adelaida School nestled amid the vineyards and olive crops in rural North County.

The school is known as the last remaining original structure in the little community west of Paso Robles. Adelaida was once a watering and rest stop for those traveling on horseback. In the 1800s and early 1900s, it was bustling with a general store, a post office and dance halls.

Today, all that is gone. But many families remain.

Some have put their energy into renovating the historic wood-sided school, built in 1917 and used for classes until 1964.

The Jussilas quickly latched onto the effort when they moved to Adelaida six years ago.

“I think a lot of the people in the community are coming in with new ideas — the younger generations of the (longtime) families,” Kevin Jussila said.

Their daughter, Templeton High School junior Anna Jussila, is a good example of that. She has stepped in to help raise funds.

“(It) has been a lot of work,” she said. “But it’s also been fun, and it makes me feel good to help out my community.”

After a little push from her mother, the 16-year-old grabbed her camera and walked the walnut tree dotted hills around her house. She snapped iconic golden landscapes, old barns and horses.

She sanded the building’s original redwood siding planks so they were smooth and free from splinters. The boards were removed in 2009 from a past project to refresh the exterior.

After that, she coordinated with her beloved former art teacher, Suzanne Dutra, to create a lesson plan centered on folk art using 30 of the boards.

“Kids normally paint on paper,” Anna Jussila said. “The kids seemed really interested in painting with different mediums.”

Templeton Middle School students painted the backcountry scenes on the boards using the teenager’s photography for inspiration. The pieces went on sale Sunday at the Jussila’s Kukkula winery to help with further school renovations.

Paso Robles Public Schools leases the schoolhouse to the Adelaida Historical Foundation, the nonprofit group dedicated to its restoration. Its volunteers have raised about $150,000 over the past six years or so, Kevin Jussila said.

About $110,000 has been used since 2009, when the structure underwent major fixes. It was lifted, and the foundation was redone. Fresh siding and a new roof were added. New doors and windows were also installed.

“If you look at the house from the road, it looks completely restored,” Kevin Jussila said.

But work to the restroom, kitchen, walls, ceiling and floor is still needed. The goal is to raise an additional $50,000 to $100,000 for those changes.