Monday, June 8, 2015

Daniels School In The Healdsburg Tribune!

Daniels School Restoration Proceeding In Rural Healdsburg

A work in progress...Bonnie Cussins-Pitkin, a former student at the Daniels School, is working to restore it and create a historical resource for the community.

The Daniels School, a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1800s, is receiving a thorough restoration by a dedicated group of former students and history buffs.

Bonnie Cussins-Pitkin is leading the current phase of the restoration, which was begun by her former third grade teacher, Flora May Caletti, a dozen years ago.

Cussins-Pitkin and other Daniels School supporters formed the Venado Historical Society and were able to set aside a half acre along Mill Creek Road as a historic district.

They are working with engineers and contractors to restore the school, and the old redwood siding is now shored up inside with new framing. New windows are coming soon.

The ultimate goal is to create a historical resource, so local students can learn about rural life a century ago. “We want students to come and visit and go see the wild flowers we used to pick and draw,” Cussins-Pitkin said.

She went on to explain that students will be able to learn about local trees, walk to the creek to see where rural students once got their drinking water, and find out about the Pomo Indians, who were in the area prior to European settlers.

Once restored, the schoolhouse will have a real slate chalkboard, an upright piano, wooden desks and photographs that illustrate local history.

Cussins-Pitkin attended Daniels School for first grade, and now lives up the hill from the old school, which was first built farther up Mill Creek Road in 1883.

It was originally called the Venado School, and was moved a few years after it was built.

“A man named Daniels sad they could move it to his property if they renamed the school after him,” Cussins-Pitkin said.

Leafing through a binder of old documents and photos, Cussins-Pitkin shows that the old wooden flagpole for the school is still there, and points out photos from “the day the goat came to school” and the shaved heads of the boys the year the students got headlice.

Holes in an outside wall show where pegs were installed for students to hang coast and hats.

Funding for the project is coming from a Sonoma County Landmarks Commission grant and local donations.

ZFA Structural Engineers and Mike Flowers of Oak Shadows Construction are donating time, and Healdsburg Lumber is providing building materials at or below cost. “We try to help nonprofits anytime we can,” said Eric Ziedrich, president of Healdsburg Lumber.

To support the Daniels School project and see photos of the restoration, visit

By: Ray Holley, Managing Editor
Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2015