Reclaiming a bit of Camano history

CAMANO ISLAND — Now that the Island County Historical Society plans to help, Jim Turk is encouraged that the historic Camano City schoolhouse may someday be returned to its role as a community center.

Historical society director Rick Castellano plans to talk Saturday morning at the schoolhouse about how his organization can aid Turk and other volunteers who hope to buy and restore the old building.

“We are pleased with the interest of the historical society and they are intrigued with the potential of the schoolhouse,” Turk said.

The mission of the historical society is focused on restoration of all the significant historic sites in Island County. The society’s help could include guiding the schoolhouse committee through grant applications and funding pursuits, Turk said.

Island County Commissioner John Dean, who lives on Camano and has written a book about the island’s history, said he is optimistic that Turk and his committee can apply for historic preservation grant money and find donors for the cause.

Camano Island Fire and Rescue currently owns the building, which is next door to its fire station on Orchid Road. Fire district officials are prepared to sell the old school and some surrounding property for about $100,000, Chief Mike Ganz said. The condition is that Turk’s group must guarantee that the historic structure will endure as a community center.

Turk envisions use of the schoolhouse for community potlucks and dances, club meetings and classes, summer art shows and picnics out under the old maple trees that overlook Saratoga Passage.

The school was built around 1906, when Camano City was a lumber-company town. The bridge to Stanwood hadn’t yet been built, and the community was served by steamboats from Everett and Seattle.

After the school closed, the building was deeded to the fire department. For many years, the department’s now-defunct women’s auxiliary, the Camano Sparklers, rented out the schoolhouse as a community center.

Those who plan to attend the Saturday morning meeting are encouraged to bring treats to share. Coffee will be provided and there will be tours of the schoolhouse. People who want to volunteer can register then to work on a variety of projects, Turk said.

Learn more

Jim Turk plans to talk about restoring the old Camano City schoolhouse at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Camano Island Library, 848 N. Sunrise Blvd.

A planning meeting about the restoration project is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the schoolhouse next to the fire station on Orchid Road. For more information, call 360-387-7641.

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