The Evergreen Schoolhouse opened in 1860. There were enough Chaboyas, both European and American homesteaders and rancheros families to open up a school in Rancho Yerba Buena. It would be incorporated into the Santa Clara County Education system in 1866 as the township became more established.
Famed author Edwin Markham (1852-1940) would come to Evergreen Schoolhouse to teach in its early days after attending San Jose State University. Teaching in Evergreen from 1969-89, he would recall the days of a single story school house, replaced by a larger two-story one. A nearby redwood tree was planted in his honor after teaching there for twenty years, which I intend to find if it’s still around. The Redwood would be over 100 years old now. It is said the Evergreen helps inspire some of Markham’s work. The commemorative redwood tree also might be the inspiration of the Evergreen trees in the School District’s logo.
In general, the School’s schedule would sync up with the fruit picking seasons and operate 10 months a year. They insisted on keeping the school free to the public and secular from its inception. My old time interviewees would recall the school house at the corner or San Felipe/White Road and Aborn Road, then Evergreen Road. That may seem odd now, but it would’ve been located there the shopping center and Valero gas station stands today. The land was donated by Mr. Nirum Cadwallader, who also donated the same amount of land to the WCR some years later, and upheld the donation by William Matthews in the transaction to Geo. Kettmann. Education has been something Evergreen residents have felt strongly about since the town began. The Schoolhouse had been there on Evergreen Road, now Aborn, since the 1860. I think it’s so cool that today’s well-known creek crossings would’ve been somebody else’s path to school 150 years ago.
Katherine R. Smith (1870-1973), daughter of town leader and postmaster Francis J. Smith, would come back to Evergreen schoolhouse after being one of the first women to graduate from San Jose State University and teach down the street from her house. The school house would remain there for a long time. Katie is huge part of Evergreen History.
The two-story school house would be moved by rolling it over logs down the street on San Felipe Road and Yerba Buena Ave. during the 1950’s. This is when San Felipe would’ve changed directions and Keaton Loop created. Post World War and new City Planning developing in effect, Evergreen’s update began with this major move. It also helps explain why this view of the Smith homes feels incorrect. From the drawing, the road now runs between the houses and business, and this driveway between them is essentially Yerba Buena Avenue. Directly next to this road would’ve been Dry Creek, now known as Thompson Creek. The Schoolhouse would come to stand where the General Store and Winery are.
That’s right, the schoolhouse moved across the street from Katherine’s House. How rad is that? Katherine, Katie, would become Superintendent of the Evergreen Elementary School District, watch the school outgrow this two-story facility and move to Fowler Road before expanding with new schools. The Evergreen School is where Evergreen Elementary School is today. Katie would live to be 103 years old and known as the Daughter of Evergreen. As a staple of the Evergreen Community and a beloved educator, it only seems appropriate to name Evergreen’s second school in her honor in 1962.
This two-story school house still stands today, or at least that’s what I had heard from fellow Evergreenians. I did some digging. I found what stands where the schoolhouse was last seen. There is this odd, adobe looking, older apartment building, called the Chaboya Apartments, standing there now at the intersection of San Felipe Road and Yerba Buena Avenue.
What I was not understanding or seeing before was that the Evergreen Schoolhouse does still stand, but with the addition to the original building disguising it. I took a closer look at what was there and found the Schoolhouse I was looking for hidden in plain sight! I find it here farthest to the right in the picture to the right. It would be naturally to extend evenly in each direction, but you’re pretty limited in repurposing a building with a creek in your backyard. To say it’s gotten some body work would be an understatement, but that’s it with the stairs leading up to it. Only the front got the more modern adobe facelift.
It’s an incredible finding as the Evergreen Elementary School District is an ally of The Evergreen Mural Walk project, as well as a source of its inspiration. Education is something we’d like to focus on here in Evergreen and that strength came from within in many instances. Katie is one of those inner strengths. The students still living having used this facility are still a connected family here in Evergreen. Here’s some of the artwork inspired by the early days of the Evergreen Elementary School District.