Folks interested in saving Marion Elementary School in Marion, Oregon from being closed contacted today for more information about the history of the school.  Here is what we found.

History of Marion Grade School

Compiled by Linda (Smith) McLaughlin

An act of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Oregon, passed on January 12, 1854, officially established Marion School District #20.

Some of the oldtimers told of a log cabin on the west side of the tracks, but none I talked to recall just where it was located.  Records would agree with this because the Marion County IED has record of a building built in 1855 with a $50.00 valuation.

On July 16, 1871 a special meeting was called at the schoolhouse for the purpose of selecting a place to build a new school and vote a tax for the new school.  Marion was decided as a site by a 10 to 0 vote.  This building was to be 26’ x 40’ x 16’ and was used as a classroom as late as 1951.

By 1903 another building was needed and plans were made.  October 23, 1903 legal voters were asked to contract a debt of $1500.00 to build a new two-room school.

To meet State Standardization and to meet the demands of the community’s growth, a petition was presented March 13, 1950 requesting the Board to call a special election fo legal voters of the district to authorize contracting of a bonded indebtedness of $72,000.00.  A bond issue of $67,605.0 was accepted and a building contract was let to Larson and White.  On September 10, 1951 the present-day school was accepted by the Board of Directors.

Though the building was not finished, the eight grade class of 1951 was the first class graduated in the school’s multipurpose room in May of that year.  I was in that first graduating class and my father, Cap Smith, presented the diplomas that year.  Since that time a fourth generation of Smiths, our sons JP and B McLaughlin have completed their elementary education at Marion Grade School.

In checking with the Marion County IED, they tell me that their records show that Marion School District #20 was established in March of 1857.  However, as stated above, their records show a building built in 1855 with a $50 valuation. The first clerk in 1855 was W.F. West.  The first record of census was in 1858 and showed a count of 46.  In 1869 more complete records show 15 scholars, 23 legal voters and 38 census count.  J.P. Smith was teacher that year.


Excerpt from book “Early Schools of Marion County: A Resource Handbook for the Bicentennial” Marion Intermediate Education District, 1976.

This district was established in March, 1857.  The school was built in 2966 with a value of $50.  It received its name when a railroad station to be called Marion was built by mistake at this location.  A.N. Bush of Salem reports that the man in charge of the supplies for construction of a station unloaded them some six miles south of the intended location (Turner).  The railroad decided to go ahead with the building of the station at that point, using the name Marion.  Then they built a station where they originally intended to and named it Turner.