The following information was included in the 2020 Oregon Chamber Community Guide.
Many emigrants from New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Ireland arrived in our area in the 1830’s and 1840’s. German, Danish, Norwegian, and other settlers followed.
After these early settlers cleared the land for building shelters, the need for schools became a priority.
Before we had schools in the village, rural areas surrounding the village established one-room schools. It was customary for a farmer to deed an acre of land to the school district for a school. Schools were typically named for the donor or the topography of the land.
Rutland Center was the earliest school district (1842) and combined with Oak Hill in 1865. A log cabin school was built in 1847 on land donated by David Tipple on the corner of Highway 14 and Oak Hill Road. A frame building was built in 1853.
Lake Harriet School (now a home) is located on the present northeast corner of Storytown Road and Sun Valley Parkway. During the winter term of 1861-62, John Muir, the famous naturalist, taught at Lake Harriet School.
There were numerous rural schools. Most of the rural schools closed in the mid-1920’s and 1930’s because of declining enrollments.
The Oregon Area Historical has placed markers on the locations of all the Oregon rural schools, and created a map of the schools. For more information about Oregon schools, a booklet is available from the OAHS: “Oregon School District, Rural and Village Schools, 1846-1998 (1998).
EARLY VILLAGE SCHOOLS – 1860’s
The first known school in the Village of Oregon was just east of the viaduct on Jefferson Street. This temporary structure was replaced with a building on what is now the site of the Catholic Church (1856-57).
As the village became more populated and more centralized, a one-room school was built in 1861 (area of current elementary school). Then with the increased enrollment, wings were added to the main building and the main building became two stories (1867).
When this school was no longer needed, this building was divided into three sections. The center section was moved to South Main Street, behind the Netherwood block, and served as the Village Hall. The two side wing sections were moved to North Main Street and became homes at 414 North Main and 418 North Main.
In 1895 a new two-story, tan brick high school was built (site of current Netherwood Knoll school) at a cost of $12,000-$14,000. This school was built for first grade through high school students. There was no kindergarten in those early years, but was added in 1912. The first occupants included 224 pupils and six teachers. It had a huge attic, which was later used for classes. Students outside the village paid tuition. All students purchased their own books. At that time the principal’s salary was $100/month; the teachers made between $25 and $88/month. This building was torn down in 1966.
RED BRICK SCHOOL
The Red Brick School building was constructed in 1922 at 200 N. Main at a cost of $74,777 plus $6,000 for equipment. This structure was to house the high school, with lower grades in the yellow brick building behind it. In just a few years, seventh grade, eighth grade and the kindergarten students were moved to the Red Brick.
This building also became a community center for social activities. The basketball team moved from Cronk’s Opera House and the bicycle factory to the new gymnasium in the Red Brick School. Graduation ceremonies, band and orchestra concerts, class plays, large community productions, and proms took place at this school.
The building served as a high school until the mid-60’s. Space was then used as part of the elementary school until 1993. After that the Red Brick provided storage space.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. After several options were considered, the building was sold to the Gorman Company. In 2006-07, the Gorman Company began renovating the building, and in 2008 the building became their corporate headquarters.
MORE RECENT SCHOOLS
Oregon was growing. With the closing of rural schools and population growth, a school reorganization effort was instituted in 1947. In 1962, Brooklyn joined the Oregon School District, increasing the student population.
Current Oregon Schools:
Oregon High School
Netherwood Knoll Elementary – current plan
Prairie View Elementary – current plan
Rome Corners Intermediate School
Oregon Middle School