Children first attended classes at the one-room Criterion School in 1912. Part of District 58 in Wasco County, it sat in the Oregon high desert near Maupin.
Although it ceased to operate as a school in 1925, the building continued to serve the community as a Sunday school, dance hall, voting space, and a location for other public events. In 1953, the building closed and sat vacant for over 20 years.
In 1976, the Criterion Schoolhouse began a new life and a 200-mile journey to the Oregon State Fairgrounds. Chosen from more than 50 schools from around Oregon, it served as an exhibit celebrating the bicentennial of the United States. It housed a statewide spelling bee during the fair that year.
Today it’s a must-see for fans of Oregon history.
The Future of the Criterion School
The Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center congratulates the Oregon Retired Educators Association Unit #39 on their recent grant from Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund. The $5,000 grant will help offset the high costs of milling period-accurate siding for the historic Criterion Schoolhouse, located at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center.
OREA Unit #39 has partnered with Clatsop Community College Historic Preservation and Restoration Program to plan the siding repair project and will conduct restoration workshops in May and July. This work will help restore and preserve this tribute to Oregon public education for the benefit of Oregon State Fair guests, as well as the public-at-large, for years to come.
“Pat Eck and the OREA Unit #39 has been instrumental in securing these funds,” said Kim Grewe-Powell, CEO of the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center. “The Criterion Schoolhouse may be historic, but deserves modern refurbishments to keep educating thousands of guests each year. We are extremely grateful for the hard work of everyone at OREA Unit #39, and the generosity of the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, as they help make sure future generations can enjoy this beloved educational attraction at the Oregon State Fair for many years to come.”
See the Criterion Schoolhouse During The Fair
The Criterion Schoolhouse typically opens each year during the Oregon State Fair where visitors can come to hear about the interesting history and see the artifacts.
Children can color sheets that are Oregon pictures while others look at the books that were used at the time of Criterion School. Some date back to the 1800's!
The Oregon State Fair returns August 25-September 4, 2023! Stay tuned for the Criterion School's hours of operation during the 2023 Oregon State Fair.
Help Keep The Criterion Schoolhouse Alive and Well
We encourage donations to help with repairs on the school. We have a new roof, painted on the outside and new windows. We will be working on the ramp and are scheduled for gutters. We appreciate any help we can get! Checks are made out to:
Oregon State Fair Foundation
2330 17th St. NE
Salem, OR 97304
(On memo line of the check, write "Criterion School")
CRITERION SCHOOLHOUSE PLACED ON NATIONAL SCHOOLHOUSE REGISTER
RECOGNITION CEREMONY ON AUGUST 10, 2023
The Criterion Schoolhouse, located in Salem on the Fairgrounds at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center, was placed on the National Schoolhouse Register by the Country School Association of America (CSAA) on December 2, 2022. The Oregon Retired Educators Association submitted the nomination through its Save the Criterion School Committee. CSAA lists former or current school buildings considered worthy of recognition on a national level for their preservation. The Criterion Schoolhouse is the first Oregon school building to receive this designation!
The Criterion Schoolhouse was the first school-in Wasco County to be declared 'standard' and was used as a school from 1912-1925. The Oregon Department of Education searched statewide for abandoned one-room schoolhouses from 1975-1976. Criterion was chosen out of 50 candidates to be moved 200 miles to the Oregon State Fairgrounds for the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration. The historical treasure still stands on the Oregon State Fairgrounds as a symbol and tribute to Oregon's public education.
Placements on the CSAA registry are awarded to school buildings that are at least 50 years old, have been restored, renovated, or reconstructed to retain the integrity of their original design, and are well maintained. The hope of CSAA is that this registry will identify the historical and architectural significance, recognize the preservation achievements, and encourage the continual care of the Criterion School.
Ceremonial Recognition Ceremony August 10th:
This historic event was celebrated on August 10, 2023, at 10 am at the Criterion Schoolhouse, at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center. Dignitaries and Oregon State educationally involved stakeholders were invited, as well as interested media to cover this historic event.