National Register of Historic Places in Calaveras County

National Register #73000397: Douglas Flat School 4 December 2012
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National Register #73000397
Douglas Flat School
Main Street
Douglas Flat
Built 1854

The Douglas Flat School shows the simplistic classic styling of Gold Rush architecture, based upon forms familiar to its builders in the East. According to Harold Kirker, the Greek and Roman based classic styles were preferred for civic architecture in California in the 1850's.

Built by local labor, the schoolhouse combines the builders' recollections of "proper" styles known in the East and the elements of frontier construction, resulting in a composition of classic styling at its simplest - the elements of classic styling are suggested, but not strongly developed along formal Greek or Roman Revival lines.

This building, in addition to being architecturally significant, is important for its role in the history of the State of California. With the discovery of gold in 1848 at Douglas Flat came many settlers to seek their wealth. To enable each miner a fair share of the prospects for gold, a system was devised to allot an area eight feet by eight feet as the surface boundaries of the claim. All that came, however, were not actually engaged in mining for gold. Tradesman and merchants established businesses to provide the miners with the goods and services needed to carry on the mining activities.

Early records indicate that the only area not available to the miners pick and shovel was the Douglas Flat school site. The first teachers, in addition to a small salary were granted exclusive rights to mine gold on the school site.

As the community grew into a large settlement, families began arriving to make this area one of permanent buildings to replace the tent city that had developed so rapidly. The school, with its variety of uses, played an important role in the development of this area.

The school was used until 1956 when it was closed due to the lack of students.

Excerpted from the NRHP nomination.

Today, the building is again used as a public meeting place - the Douglas Flat Community Center - open to everyone in Calaveras County. The building is still maintained by volunteers

Some Historic Schoolhouses in Northern California
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