Central School, Umatilla, Oregon
Central School is significant as the community’s first public high school and for its association with the development of education in the towns of Milton and Freewater. Between the establishment of the town plat in 1872 and the construction of Central and Freewater Schools in 1910, the twin cities of Milton and Freewater experienced phenomenal population growth. After being opened to Euro-American settlers in 1860 many rushed into the Walla Walla Valley to homestead or were lured by the prospect of gold in nearby Idaho. Soon these small towns grew from just a few farms and log cabins into a fully-fledged community. Central School, apart from being the largest school, was also the only facility in the area that provided a free public high-school education. Central School was not a simple utilitarian design. Instead it was an architect-designed statement that heralded the maturation of the community and communicated the town’s hopes for a prosperous future.
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