The Cambrian

1881 schoolhouse in Cambria will soon need a new home — but where?

The historic Santa Rosa Schoolhouse, foreground, and the Palmer Building sit on the property sold by the Lions Club to Poly Pro in Cambria’s West Village.
The historic Santa Rosa Schoolhouse, foreground, and the Palmer Building sit on the property sold by the Lions Club to Poly Pro in Cambria’s West Village. sprovost@thetribunenews.com

A group of pioneer families wants to put the historic Santa Rosa Schoolhouse at the southern gateway to Cambria along Main Street.

The Lions Club, which has been housing the building at 870 Main St. in the West Village, has sold the property where the schoolhouse currently sits to Poly Pro. Lions Club President Mike Broadhurst said in an email to club members that the Lions had received a check for $426,000.

The schoolhouse will need to be moved by February 2020, Laurel Stewart of the Cambria Historical Society told the Cambria Community Services District board on Thursday, Feb. 22, but Poly Pro will be moving in a lot sooner. The Cambria-based window and door company has begun remodeling the Palmer Building, and co-owner Jeff McBrady said Poly Pro would be moving in within the next couple of weeks.

The company was founded 15 years ago in Templeton and has been renting space near Cambria Hardware in Tin City for the past eight years, he said.

“This is going to be great,” McBrady said Tuesday morning at the site, where he showed off some of the interior work being done. “It’s twice as big, and owning the property versus renting is a big deal for us. We love Cambria. (We get to) take a building that’s run down and remodel the whole thing.”

As to the 1881 schoolhouse, Stewart’s group would like to place it in a meadow occupied, until recently, by a dog park on Main Street at Santa Rosa Creek Road.

Debbie Soto, Barbara Fiscalini and Kathleen Fiscalini Gerhardt all spoke in favor of the idea at the Feb. 22 meeting. All are part of the Fiscalini family, which operated dairies in the Cambria-Harmony area from the 1870s until 1970.

Fiscalini-Gerhardt said she was part of the last eighth-grade graduating class to attend the school before it closed in 1952.

This cherished relic should be returned to open space and near the creek which bears its name.

Debbie Soto

Soto called the meadow “an ideal setting for the school building.”

“This cherished relic should be returned to open space and near the creek which bears its name, and not crowded in the center of town between commercial buildings,” she said in a prepared statement read to the board.

It had previously been suggested that the schoolhouse be moved to the pocket park at Bridge and Center Streets, near the post office, which would incorporate it into the town’s existing historical district. But flooding concerns make that location problematic, Stewart said.

“It’s not in the floodplain, as is the pocket park, and FEMA would very likely not allow anything on the pocket park,” she said.

At least one CCSD director spoke enthusiastically about the dog park location. “It just kind of puts a glow on my body, thinking of putting that schoolhouse there at the entrance to the community,” Director Harry Farmer said.

The board voted 4-0 to refer the matter to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission for further consideration. Vice President Jim Bahringer recused himself, saying he owns property across from the old dog park site.

For 20 years, Phillip Ehorn has brought beloved but broken timepieces back to life as horologist at Once Upon a Tyme in Cambria.

Other business

Also at the Feb. 22 meeting, the board approved language for a ballot measure that would raise $378,000 to fund three Cambria firefighters. The measure will appear on the June 5 ballot.

Directors also set committee assignments for the coming year, forming standing committees for finance (President Amanda Rice and Director David Pierson) and infrastructure (Bahringer and Farmer). Each of the other three directors will appoint a community member to serve on these two committees, and directors asked that volunteers contact them if they’re interested.

In addition, Rice and Bahringer will serve on an ad-hoc Legislative Committee, as well as on an ad-hoc Rate Study Committee.

Board liaison assignments are as follows: North Coast Advisory Council (Bahringer), Coast Unified School District (Rice), Cambria Community Healthcare District (Pierson), Cambria Forest Committee (Farmer), Cambria Tourism Board (Bahringer), FireSafe Focus Group (Aaron Wharton), FFRP (Farmer), and San Simeon CSD (Rice).

Stephen H. Provost: 805-927-8896, @sproauthor

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