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In 1985 architectural historian Rurik Kallis mentioned that he thought an old building on the west side in National City might be the first schoolhouse in National City built in 1869. Rurik is known for his keen eye and so we had a look for ourselves. The building had six over six windows and the pitch of the roof indicative of 1860's architecture. Further research turned up an 1872 photograph of Frank and Sarah Kimball's home, which clearly shows in the background the schoolhouse just south of the Kimball home. Its original location being, according to early National City historian Irene Phillips, "on the west side of National Avenue and about 100 feet south of 12th."

Sixteen years later an 1888 photo shows a new back wing and the two conspicuous dormers added, but still retaining its three classroom windows. The building had been moved to the corner of 19th and Taft and in the move was turned completely around. At this time it was a private residence. The building was then moved just one block back to Wilson, and again turned around when the Montgomery freeway was put through.

And this is where it now stands, one of the small additions to the rear now removed, and the three large windows have been changed to a bay window and a double window. The home has been very well taken care of through the years; the present owners have kept it in good condition. This schoolhouse served as a church and Sunday school for the first services in National City. Meetings of the Grange and other community groups were held here and social events, dances and such. Frank Kimball built the schoolhouse and provided it with books, supplied by the State Board of Education, although it was a private school. According to Rurik Kallis, this is the second oldest schoolhouse in all of San Diego County, still existing, the oldest being the Mason Street School in Old Town.


Historic photos courtesy Coons collection. Current photo by Bruce Coons

2005 - Volume 36, Issue 3

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Strength in Numbers


Lost San Diego


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DOWNLOAD full magazine as pdf (4.1mb)

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2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-9327
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