Watson School Re-Dedication and Open House

Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. was honored to have participated in the re-dedication and open house for the National Register-listed Watson School located in rural Sonoma County. The event, held on July 30, 2012, celebrated the completion of the multi-year restoration efforts aimed at re-opening the structure to the public.

The Watson School is a one-room schoolhouse located on Bodega Highway, near the Town of Bodega in Sonoma County, California. Built in 1856 on land donated by James Watson, the school served the communities of Bodega, Freestone, and Valley Ford. Watson School has the distinction of being the only one-room schoolhouse in public ownership within Sonoma County that remains on its original site. It is also believed to be the longest operating one-room school in California’s public school history, having served the local community for more than 111 years (1856-1967).

Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. got involved with the project in 2008 when we were retained by the Sonoma County Department of Parks to prepare a Historic Structures Report (HSR). This report was commissioned to address the immediate and long-term needs for the building in a prioritized manner to allow fundraising for discrete projects.

Through the generous actions of a private donor, the rehabilitation of the structure was made possible. Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. was further retained to work with the client-selected structural engineer on this rehabilitation project. Our HSR was used as a guide to determine the most effective use of the donated funds, address building deficiencies, and expand the scope to include accessibility compliance.

The re-dedication and open house celebrated the completion of these projects that helped to preserve this important structure that served the community for over a century. As a part of the ceremony, Garavaglia Architecture, Inc.’s Preservation Services Manager, Becky Urbano, was invited to speak about the history of the structure and its role in the history of the area and greater Sonoma County. While the interior of the building is not currently open to the public, we invite you to visit the park where you can view this structure and learn more about its history.