Phoenix rising: 50 Church Street

Thanks to the work of many craftsmen from throughout the region and elsewhere, restoration work on the historic 1905 Quincy Schoolhouse at 50 Church St. is nearing completion and the Plumas County Office of Education (PCOE) will move into the renovated building downtown between July 31 and the first few days of August.

As soon as the boxes are unpacked, PCOE will gear up for the Aug. 14 meeting of the Governing Board of Trustees and two more events — a staff orientation and community open house, both happening Thursday, Aug. 15.

It’s an exciting prospect — and there will be a lot of people to thank for helping to realize the community dream to restore the vintage schoolhouse to a state of glory. Now she will provide a home for the Plumas Unified School District’s (PUSD) administrative staff and school board meetings and serve as a showplace and gathering spot for community events in the heart of the Lost Sierra.

The facility offers a dedicated public meeting space with a dais for speakers. The meeting area has become a new central focus for the building and preserves the original wall-sized map of the county plus the 12-foot tall vertical grain Douglas fir partition doors that stretch about 27 feet and once divided the large room into classrooms.

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Many charming features of the original building were either retained, replicated or preserved and new ones will make the beloved school a modern, welcoming environment for workers and visitors alike.

The remodeled facility accommodates offices for the superintendent, finance, curriculum, special education staff and other uses.

And the building is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) including a new elevator lift, an interior fire-safe location and an access ramp at ground level.

Some features unimagined when students attended in the early 1900s now grace 50 Church Street, like HVAC heating and air conditioning, insulation between floors and fresh, lead-free paint throughout.

The schoolhouse exterior is enclosed with 9,000 square feet of 1×8 rustic-lap resawn cedar siding meant to reflect the period of the building and Sierra Pacific Industries, which also made a generous donation toward the pricey materials, milled it especially for the project.

Energy-efficient lighting, dozens of multi-pane windows, all new plumbing and weatherproofing were built into the project.

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Wherever practical, historic architectural details were preserved or replicated, so be sure to see the stately transoms that sit atop the windows and note the new Victorian-style replica roofing that was installed last year.

Consideration was made throughout the process to retain as much of the old building’s charm and character as possible while ensuring the facility meets today’s standards for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials and construction.

The PUSD trustees oversaw materials, design, costs, workload and timing from 2017 to now with input from community members on the Friends of 50 Committee, local history experts and district staff.

The work was also able to proceed throughout the seasons, unlike the projects underway at PUSD’s current school campuses, because no students or staff had to be displaced during construction.

When the doors open to the community in two weeks, 50 Church Street will shine again as much as she did when her first Lost Sierra students trooped through the doors, doing their best to be orderly and ready to learn. See you there!

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Special thanks are extended to PUSD Maintenance and Operations Supervisor Ray Bakker for his assistance and readiness to provide Feather Publishing with access to this property during all phases of construction and renovation.