Watson School

Bodega, California | C.1856

Photo Credit: @ruby.mischa

In 1855, James Watson donated land to build a school that would serve the nearby communities of Freestone, Bodega, and Valley Ford, California. For 111 years, Watson School operated on the land as a public education center. The public one-room schoolhouse was the longest-running in California, eventually becoming a historic park in Bodega.

In 1976, Watson School was named Sonoma County Landmark #23, and two years later, the School was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Daniel B. Furlong, who was a member of the school’s final graduating class, initiated restoration efforts in 2011. The wood foundation was replaced with concrete along with additional improvements to the structure.

Open to the public, the Watson School Historic Park features not only the school house, but the surrounding park area as well. Adjacent to the park is Christo & Jeanne-Claude Running Fence Park, commemorating the Running Fence art project, led by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which featured a fabric fence that stretched for 24.5 miles from 1972 to 1976.

Today, Watson School remains in its original condition on its original site. Although its interior is closed to the public, visitors can visit and admire the schoolhouse’s original design, including the two bright red doors at its entrance.

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