History

Canyon School began in 1894 in this one-room schoolhouse, which was built on the 300 block of what is now Sycamore Road. The design was a simple, wooden neo-classical structure with a pitched roof and generous front porch supported by four wood columns. Large windows were placed on the south side for maximum daylight, with a solid wall on the north to keep out cold winter winds. The schoolhouse became an important gathering place for the rural Santa Monica Canyon community, and was used for church services, music performances, and dances. The school occupied several pastoral acres of land donated to the school by the Marquez family, heirs to the enormous Mexican land grant known as Rancho Boca de Santa Monica y San Vicente.

In 1912, in response to real estate development by the Santa Monica Land & Water Company, the schoolhouse was physically moved to a new location on East Channel Road; it had been in its original location for only 18 years. The schoolhouse was relocated to the middle of what is now Amalfi Drive. It faced directly across East Channel to the creek that flows down from upper Rustic Canyon. The schoolhouse stayed in this location for more than 50 years.

From 1954-1959, modern buildings were added to the rapidly growing school. In 1965, in order to make way for the extension of Amalfi Drive, the original schoolhouse was moved for the second time. It was placed in the middle of the new campus, in an undignified location where its front porch faced the side of a bathroom building. In 1966, however, the building was given loving attention when it was renovated as the school library and recognized by the City of Los Angeles as a historic landmark. In 1969 the school community mounted a new bell in its distinctive belfry; the original bell had been missing since 1902.

Finally, in 1997, after 36 years facing the bathrooms, the schoolhouse was lifted off its foundations and move for a third, and perhaps final, time, to its present location. The front porch now faces the whole campus and provides a stage and seating area for school and community events. In 2000, the completion of a multi-year renovation of the library was celebrated by the entire community. 

For 115 years, the original schoolhouse building has been at the center of Canyon School and of the Canyon. 2012 will mark its 100th anniversary as the heart of the “new” campus. It has the distinction of being the oldest school building in use by children in Los Angeles County. Beyond its historic stature, the schoolhouse is a beloved symbol of the sustained effort by many generations to create a vibrant place for learning and living, for thousands of children and for the Santa Monica Canyon community.