LA CONNER — The Pleasant Ridge schoolhouse received a failing grade on an engineering feasibility study that concluded the best option for the structure built in the 1890s is demolition.
To restore the building would cost about $500,000, said Lori Buher, secretary of the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery District, which has owned the schoolhouse since 2017.
“Funding to restore the school seems prohibitive at this point,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of success fundraising to this point, mainly because we really haven’t been aggressive about it as we have been doing preliminary work.”
The money raised to restore the building east of La Conner has been returned to donors.
Buher said while demolition is an option, it is not being considered. Rather, cemetery district commissioners are taking a wait-and-see approach to the structure’s future.
“Yes, it’s bad and it needs help,” Buher said. “But we aren’t giving up. Everyone would like to see us move forward with the project. We just have to see what comes together.”
The long-vacant schoolhouse is close to the hearts of many, said Buher. But it has seen better days, going from hosting students to a storage facility for gardening equipment and supplies, to now being a shell of its former self.
Buher said the cemetery district bought the land on which the schoolhouse and a small rental property sit as a way to give the cemetery space to expand.
“And the fact the historic school building was also on the property was something we considered a benefit because the commissioners had long hoped to be able to save the school and use it for memorial services or other community gatherings,” she said. “That hope is not dead.”
But saving the schoolhouse will take money.
“With enough funds there is certainly a way to do it,” Buher said. “There is a way to restore anything, if you have the money. We are a public cemetery district and the commissioners serve the public’s interest as best as they can. Any type of commitment to a huge project like this would take a lot. But right now, there are no plans to do anything drastic.”
Fundraising has started anew and those interested in donating can contact the cemetery district commissioners at pleasantridgecemetery.com.