By: W. E. Turnidge
Liberty School, Salem Public School District 24CJ, was formerly Marion County District 71. When the “Liberty Old Timers” meet August 3, they will see the sixth construction project designed to enlarge and improve Liberty School. I The school began in a 16 x 20 foot building in 1868 on land donated by a Mr. Swede.
There were fourteen voters at the time of origination, and the teacher was Sarah Towner. The present new addition (to be added in 1957) is the fourth building used by school children in this community. Shortly after 1885, the first schoolhouse was replaced by a larger one room build- ing. Later a one room addition was built. Water was carried to the students and staff from across the street. Two students of this era are still residing in Salem. They are Mrs. Daisy Mclntyre and Ed. Jory. In 1906 the school became crowded again. The staff at that time was Mrs. Ernest Free (who still lives in Salem), her sister, Mrs. Mae Cleveland Mrs. Rececca Smith.
Because of crowded conditions Mrs. Free conducted her classes in the Dorman Dance Hall above the Smith Store warehouse This building is still standing. Known now as the Grange Hall, it is being used as a warehouse In 1908 a two story, four room school was built. The older building was moved to the south end of the grounds and was used as a community hall for many years.
The “new building” as the old timers call it, had a dirt basement that was destined to be come two more classrooms and entrance to modern restrooms In 1953, a six room addition with office space and special rooms was built on the South and East sides of the “new building Liberty still feels the pangs of population increase. In 1956 it was planned to have eight classrooms, but eleven were needed. To meet the population growth, a six room addition is to be built in 1957.
Even so, it is estimated that two rooms in the “new building” (1908 vintage) will be needed, and that the school enrollment will be doubled by 1962. Liberty School has one of the most attractive and inviting school grounds in the country. A wide expanse of grassy play area is flanked on the South and West by a grove of fir and oak trees. The architect has planned a low contemporary building using native woods and brick to enhance the appearance in these natural surroundings So Liberty has grown from a 16 x 20 foot house with a staff of one to an eleven room establishment (not including gym, cafeteria and special rooms) with a staff of 18.