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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Bear Valley School
Reference Number 14000267
State California
County San Benito
Town Paicines
Street Address East side of SR 146, 1 mi. n. of jet. SR 25 and SR 146 Pinnacles National Park (PINN)
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 6/2/2014
Areas of Significance Education
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The Bear Valley School is significant at the local level under Criterion A in the area of Education. For more than half a century, this was the only public, or common, school serving Bear Valley, a small agricultural community located in the remote mountains of southern San Benito County. Most ofthe original homesteading families sent their children here. As a common school, attendance was not limited by income or social status, since the school was supported by state and county tax contributions and was open to everyone. The educational curriculum emphasized fundamental skills in such essential subjects as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography. The children were taught by a single teacher in one room, where everybody was required to cooperate regardless of grade level, age, or intellectual ability. The equalizing effect of this unique pedagogical environment, as well as the school's open admission and lack of fees, were all characteristics of the common school movement which had originated in the American Northeast during the period of the Early Republic, with older precedents in colonial New England. The one-room schoolhouse itself, situated within a small and geographically-limited school district, was a further adaptation of the common school tradition to the rural, sparsely-populated conditions of the American West. Although Bear Valley School was only one of many one-room schools that were established throughout the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, it is an excellent example of this historically-significant tradition within the local context, where it had a profound and lasting effect on the formation of the Bear Valley community by providing a common school education for three generations of residents.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria