Originally Published: November 24, 2005 4 a.m.
If leaders in the Black Canyon Historical Society and Canon School District #50 get a passing grade on their homework, the old Black Canyon schoolhouse will be open for lessons again; not for reading, writing, or arithmetic, but history, and history only.
Black Canyon Historical Society Acting President Bob Nilles, and Canon School District Superintendent Vicki Elkins, are close to drafting a lease agreement between the BCHS who wants to use the old schoolhouse for its future museum, and the school district which owns it.
"I spoke to the county attorney who wasn't real excited about the idea at first," said Elkins on a recent tour of the site, "but we just have to get some questions cleared up and then he said he would let us go with it." The old school building sits next to the Black Canyon City Head Start center on School House Road.
"I'm waiting to hear about our 501c3 application," said Nilles. "We can't sign anything until we get our non-profit status from the IRS." The Internal Revenue Service form 501c3 grants organizations non-profit status and enables them to enter lease agreements as a legitimate organization.
Even empty, the old schoolhouse has its own history and is its own museum.
According to a history booklet published by the BCC Chamber of Commerce and other historical material provided by Nilles and Elkins, what is today known as Canon Elementary School and its district, started as a one-room school in 1898 called Agua Fria Canon School.
In 1917, it became known as Canon School. The school was north of the present day Grace Lutheran Church at Vladimir and Black streets. In 1926, the condemned school was and burned down, and a new building constructed where Ron's Market now stands.
School continued on at that location until the 1950s when the schoolhouse was moved to its present location on School House Road.
"They couldn't move it across the bridge, because it was only one lane," said Elkins. "They had to move it up the river bed to get it here. I don't know how they did it back then."
Elkins, who sits on the board of directors of the BCHS, taught classes in the old school house as young graduate. "It was the school we had until we moved in 1982 to 1986 to the new school where we are today," she said. "We just had too many students to stay there."
Some parts of the original building are concealed under well-intentioned past efforts to fix and modernize the schoolhouse in order to keep it up-to-date and comfortable for the students. But it still retains most of its original design and character, and it still displays parts of the original clapboard siding and ornate tin ceiling.
"I would love to see it restored," said Elkins.
For information about the old schoolhouse or Black Canyon Historical Society call 623-374-0332. The Black Canyon Historical Society is meeting Nov. 28, 7 p.m., at Albins Civic Center.