The lovely, old Cedar School in Troutdale is likely to receive a zoning change the owner has sought for several years so that it can continue to be a home, artist studio and event venue.
Multnomah County Commissioners will vote on the change at an upcoming board meeting. The county planning commission has recommended the commissioners approve the change — from exclusive farm use to rural residential.
Oddly, the Cedar School was not used for agriculture, at least in the last 100 years. It was a school and then became the home, studio and event space it is now.
The building had been privately owned since 1976, but by the 1990s had fallen into terrible disrepair.
In 1999, photographer Colleen Cahill purchased the property and began gradually restoring the badly decaying building.
Cahill has transformed it into a popular place for weddings and other special events. It also features an Airbnb rental.
Cahill declined to comment on the zoning change.
Rich Faith, a retired land use planner knowledgeable about the zoning request, said the zoning change "legitimizes the dwelling that is already there."
He said there have been no objections filed with the county on the zoning change.
"People living around her have all found that she is a good neighbor," Faith said.
The current brick school, at 2326 S.E. Troutdale Road, was constructed in the 1920s. It had one classroom and an auditorium which held school plays and town meetings. The school was part of the Cedar School District until 1940, when it merged with the Troutdale School District.
The original school on the site was built in 1857 as a small 12-foot by 18-foot cedar log structure. The school was constructed on one acre of land donated by farmer and landowner William Brooks Jones. Only four to six children attended the school in the beginning.
In 1886, as the community grew, a new building was built on the site. The new school was nearly twice the size of the old one at 20-by-40-feet. It had a striking bell tower although that building is gone.
After the 1920s school was closed, the building was used as an overflow space until the 1950s, intermittently by the city of Gresham and Mt. Hood Community College until 1971, when it was abandoned and returned to the heirs of William Brooks Jones.
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has not yet scheduled a vote on the rezoning.
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