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Read about the history of Soap Creek Valley as well as turn of the century images scanned in from glass-plate negatives, including images of previous schoolhouses.

Soap Creek Schoolhouse Overview

The Soap Creek Schoolhouse stands as a remembrance of the time when one-room schoolhouses provided much of the education for rural Americans. Set on a grassy hillside in picturesque Soap Creek Valley, 8 miles north of Corvallis, it is one of the most visible symbols of early twentieth-century life in rural Benton County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Known in the area as “The Little Red Schoolhouse,” it is a familiar landmark on a bike loop that winds through the valley.

The sun shining through a row of south-facing windows lights the single main room. The building has a front porch, two small coat rooms with storage shelves, a back porch, a belfry with a rope just inside the front door, and a bell that can still be heard throughout the valley. A few period desks and tables furnish the main room.

A wood shed near the back door stored firewood for the wood stove. A new shed built in 2002 of rough-sawn lumber stores modern chairs and tables for community use. The original outhouses, built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), were replaced in 2002 by one new one, which has a modern passive ventilation system and concrete vault. Within the past 10 years, local residents, working through the Soap Creek Schoolhouse Foundation, have repainted the outside and have also replaced the roof, windows, wiring, and front stairs.


The present Soap Creek Schoolhouse is the third schoolhouse constructed on the site. It was built in 1935 and used through the end of the school year in 1946. At that time, one-room schools in the Corvallis School District were consolidated, and Soap Creek pupils began attending Mountain View Elementary School.

Pete Johansen, a Soap Creek resident, built the school following design practices common at that time. Some of the elements in the building, such as the window casings, appear to be older than the 1930’s, suggesting that some materials were re-used from an earlier structure. One of the goals of the Soap Creek Schoolhouse Foundation is to understand the materials in the building and restore the schoolhouse to its original appearance as much as possible.