What used to be the only remaining part of the 100-year-old, two-story wooden Newhall School building is gone, and Historical Society officers are none too happy.
According to a source familiar with the property at 24514 Kansas Street (next to Jimmy Dean’s on Lyons Avenue), the onetime schoolhouse was bulldozed within the last eight to 10 days.
It had just been sold in April for $500,000 to an entity called Kansas Street Partners LLC, whose agent is listed as James S. Backer, a local developer and chairman of the board of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The structure served as Newhall’s K-8 school from about 1914 to 1928, when it was supplanted with a new building at the current elementary school site on Walnut Street.
According to local oral history, the 1914-28 school building then was cut in two. One half became a private home (the one that was recently razed); the other half is long gone.
Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, an SCV Historical Society board member, was upset to learn of the demolition and said she hadn’t been forewarned; nor had Historical Society President Alan Pollack. Had the society known, said Weste, it could have worked with the new property owner to move the relatively small structure – 924 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath – to Heritage Junction at Hart Park, where the group has saved several other buildings from bulldozers since 1980.
Weste and Duane Harte, a city Parks Commissioner who is also the society’s treasurer, said they had heard of possible development plans a few years ago, under a prior owner, but that nothing came of them.
Curiously, the property does not seem to have been included in any formal city list of “protected” historical properties. It’s not cited as a cultural resource in the city’s original 1991 General Plan or in the subsequent One Valley One Vision plan; nor is it on the “short list” of properties protected under a more recent City Council ordinance.
It was Newhall’s third formal schoolhouse, consecutively. Modern Santa Clarita history generally gives 1914 as the first year the building was used as a school. A history of Newhall compiled in 1940 puts it a bit earlier, stating it was first used in 1911 after the tiny town outgrew the previous (second) Newhall School, which had been erected in 1890 at Walnut and 9th Street after the first one (from 1879) burned down.
Los Angeles County assessor records show a construction date of 1913 for the Kansas Street property, with an expansion in 1919. It closed escrow for the last time April 30, 2014.
The writer is a member of the board of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.