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Big Cedar Schoolhouse named to national registry

‘living part’ of the surrounding community

A current view of the Big Cedar Schoolhouse, located on Red Fir Road near Kooskia.

A current view of the Big Cedar Schoolhouse, located on Red Fir Road near Kooskia.


Students at the Big Cedar Schoolhouse, pictured during the 1925-26 school year.

— Announced in December, the Big Cedar School in Idaho County was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic schoolhouse is one of more than two dozen structures and sites in Idaho County listed in the register, the purpose of which is to recognize their importance and provide honorific designation, while increasing public awareness and appreciation for these properties.

According to Cindy Schacher, Idaho County Historic Preservation Commission (ICHPC), archival research performed as part of the registration process provides invaluable documentation of the site for future generations, and the listing helps the property qualify for certain grant programs.

The Big Cedar Schoolhouse is located about 10 miles southeast of Kooskia on Red Fir Road, constructed in 1920 to replace a log school building built to served District 86, which had formed six years prior. The number of pupils during the facility’s operation varied between eight to 25; some traveled by horse, skis or foot as far as three miles to attend the school that had no electricity or plumbing for many years.

The school remained in operation until 1960 when the number of pupils dwindled to six, and the community and board voted to close it. In 1962, Stella Hendren bought the property at auction, and two years later sold it to the Big Cedar Community. The structure was moved 225 feet from its original site, after which it became a community center.

Big Cedar Schoolhouse was pursued for historic designation following an ICHPC commissioned survey of rural Idaho County schools by an architectural historian to determine registry eligibility. Big Cedar was one of nine schools identified that also included Clear Creek, Glenwood, Kidder Ridge, Riggins High, Stites, School Stock Creek, Woodland and White Bird. Involved in the historic research process were ICHPC and the Big Cedar Homemakers organization.

“The Big Cedar School continues to be used as a gathering place for area residents and is a ‘living part’ of the surrounding community, as it has been for nearly 100 years,” Schacher said.

With this process complete, ICHPC is next seeking grant funding to update its Guide to National Register of Historic Places in Idaho County. The new brochure will contain information about the Big Cedar Schoolhouse and Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark.


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