OLD SCHOOL OF THE DAY
Tassajara One Room School
1650 Finley Road
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Built in 1889, the one-room Tassajara Schoolhouse is located at 1650 Finley Road, east of Danville in Contra Costa County’s Tassajara Valley. Students from Tassajara Valley ranches attended this school from 1889 to 1946. The schoolhouse was the second Tassajara grammar school, built when the student population outgrew a smaller structure. On January 12, 1889, ten out of ten Tassajara School District voters approved the sale of bonds amounting to $1700 to purchase a lot, build, and furnish a school. Peter Anderson was paid $200 for an acre of his ranch land on Finley Road. The Livermore Echo Newspaper (March 14, 1889) reported that the contract for the new school was let to J. L. Weilbye of Sunol. In 1889, Richard D. Williams was the teacher, and 41 students attended that August. They learned mental arithmetic, reading, geography, spelling and writing. A public high school in downtown Danville opened in 1910 and some of the students traveled into town for higher education, joining grammar school graduates from Sycamore Valley, San Ramon, and Danville schools. In 1946 Tassajara School enrollment shrank to 11 after two large families moved away. Several parents thought that students could get a better education by going to a more modern school. That year the school closed, and students and teacher Gertrude Arendt went to Danville for elementary school. The abandoned school fell on hard times. The bell disappeared, windows were broken and Washington’s picture was stolen.
It was later deeded to the Tassajara Fire District (TFD) for restoration and general upkeep. The schoolhouse is where all TFD board meetings and events were held. The schoolhouse became a very important part of the TFD because it was a place where fire department personnel and the community came together. So the people in the Tassajara community organized to restore and care for the schoolhouse, replacing the foundation and roof and putting in new wiring and floors. They created the Tassajara-Highland Improvement Association in 1970, and In 1990, when the TFD consolidated with the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, the schoolhouse became the responsibility of the SRVFPD and the citizens it serves. An annual picnic at the school included a barbecue, raffles, auctions, games, and recruitment for volunteers. Funds were raised for the restoration. Today the schoolhouse is in excellent shape because of the efforts of the Tassajara and San Ramon Valley Fire Districts and the supportive Tassajara Valley community. The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District installed a flagpole on the original site. A historic plaque was placed by the San Ramon Valley Historical Society in 1999.
For over 100 years the schoolhouse has been an important feature of the Tassajara Valley. It was a school, first and foremost. But it has also been used for graduations, dances, 4-H and fire board meetings, church services, picnics, and a polling place. The restored Tassajara School stands as a tribute to the caring community which worked to save it. The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and Contra Costa County transferred the stewardship of the ‘One Room Schoolhouse’ to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley in October 2012. This regional treasure is now owned by the Valley’s organization dedicated to preserving local history. Today, the Museum of the San Ramon Valley uses this “living museum” to present the third grade one-room school program to 2,500 students each spring. The One-room Schoolhouse Program aims to help students compare and contrast today’s classroom with that of a one-room school including an understanding and appreciation of our rural school heritage. The location has picnic tables surrounded by large walnut trees in an idyllic setting ensuring a memorable picnic, tour or visit. A belfry with bell, old outhouses, a restored stable and a new redwood water tower complete the picture. Tassajara One Room School was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible for the National Register under Criterion A for its role in education and social history in rural Contra Costa County’s Tassajara Valley, at the local level of significance. Period of significance is from 1889, the date of construction, until 1946 when the building ceased operation as a school.