The Lewiston Schoolhouse
Top 10

"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."--George Orwell

The following list is comprised of accomplishments that have come from the work of countless volunteers and the resulting milestones that have proven significant, not just for the Old Lewiston Schoolhouse and the non-profit organization that occupied the historic building, but for the people of Lewiston.
Virtually all of these milestones were reached over a fifteen year span, during a time when the institution experience its greatest rate of expansion and saw levels of unparalleled growth and prosperity, and before the debilitating forces of an unprecedented and catastrophic legal action would cripple the organization forever.
And yet, unscathed, the historic one-room school itself remains.
Lest we forget, here now a rundown of some truly inspirational goals that were met by a legion of intrepid souls who struggled in the face of adversity—during a period of nationwide economic hardship, countywide tourism decline and political upheaval in the small town where, sadly, deep divisions in the community continue to flourish.
But, inspired by the poignant words of George Orwell, above, we persevere.

10. The Dewey Decimal Classification (2003)
All libraries in North America have the Dewey system in place, or so one would think. But small town libraries that are not part and parcel of a state's library system are oftentimes not so fortunate. Much work goes into the cataloging and filing of books and materials, and private libraries don't always have the manpower to fully implement the DDC. Not so with ours. Ten years after the founding of the institution, and after many months of hard work by volunteers re-cataloging the entire stock of donated books, the Lewiston Schoolhouse's library finally became standardized and the Dewey Decimal System was put into effect once and for all.

9. Computers (2000)
Making its entry onto the Information Superhighway, the Lewiston Library was blessed to receive donations of Apple desktop computers and peripherals from the town elementary school. In the intervening years and after many hardware upgrades, including the introduction of fax & copy services and Wi-Fi technology, the library continued to offer high tech amenities free of charge to a decidedly connected public.

8. Bookmarks (2003-2010)
One wouldn't think that something as innocuous as a laminated bookmark would have much of an impact on the success of a small town non-profit. But when they're professionally produced in quadruple digit quantities and presented as business cards, with contact information of the istitution featured prominently, and then made available free to the public, to the tune of thousands of such "mini-billboards" over the years, the publicity coup is undeniable. To this day, people from all over are still responding to these delightful, durable souvenirs, all emblazoned with the schoolhouse insignia, which no doubt have found their way into countless reading materials scattered far and wide. You're bound to find one in a random book, if you haven't already!

7. Vast Communications Network (2003-2012)
Email contacts. Direct mail addresses. Phone numbers. Facebook Friends lists.
Publicity experts will tell you these are some of the very best forms of networking, of getting your message out there and in the public eye. Thanks largely to the popularity of the local newsletter, website and other (formerly) in-house publications, the Lewiston Library had amassed a gargantuan collection of such contacts lists from among its many supporters, donors, advertisers, members and volunteers over the years, a database which rivaled the subscription mailing list of the county newspaper in sheer size. Institutional fundraisers, membership drives and various public notice efforts were effected through the use of the organization's comprehensive network of contacts. The whereabouts of these voluminous lists are unknown today, all believed to be lost. Or are they?

6. The Ice Cream Social (1997)
It's become one of Lewiston's biggest public events. Happening each August, the ICS brings in much-needed funds to the library organization's treasury, and has made the difference between its financial success and failure each and every year since. In terms of fiscal impact, without this essential annual fundraiser, there would likely be no town library.

5. (TIE) The Schoolhouse Front Steps (2007)
The Schoolhouse Holiday Gala (2005-2011)

With the use of convict labor, the organization oversaw the completion of the longstanding landscape beautification project that had been discussed since the library's early years. Working from a blueprint designed by local artist, Michele de Onate, the cons had the project completed in just three days' time. Gone now are the perils of navigating an often muddy and treacherous front path that pedestrian visitors to the schoolhouse once faced. The building's front entryway never looked better, putting a fine face on the structure's historical landscape and providing the perfect complement to the unique ambiance of the Lewiston Historic District as a whole. And so it remains to this day.


Michele strikes again! The schoolhouse's resident artist herself single-handedly revived the town's age old "Christmas Tree Party" concept of times past, bringing it up to date with a truly stunning display of holiday-themed interior decor that, back in the day, would have made Macy's green (and red) with envy. Happening each year to coincide with the annual Bridge Lighting event in old town, visitors to the old building that night would come for the warmth and end up staying for Michele's outstanding selection of free egg nog, cider and cookies, while taking in the amazing sight of the Old Lewiston Schoolhouse's already-eye catching interior adorned with an array of professionally arranged decorations that encapsulated the holiday spirit perfectly. Revelers attracted by the fireworks each year would invariably find themselves camped out inside the erstwhile classroom enjoying the true spirit of the season. Good times.

4. The Lewiston Pioneer Museum (1997)
"A town library is nice. But is there room for a museum, too?" This was the question on the lips of many townsfolk that was finally answered just a few years after the library's founding, when donated relics from Lewiston's early years were collected and provisions were made for their display inside the Old Lewiston Schoolhouse, among the many shelves lined with books and other library materials. It's proven to be a perfect fit. Now, out-of-towners can appreciate the virtues of the historic building every bit as much as the locals. And, it's the smallest museum in all of northern California. (NOTE: Incredibly, there's currently no signage out front of the historic building to indicate a museum therein, a point of confusion for visitors looking for the town's sole showcase of historical relics. But it's there. Trust us.)

3. The Lewiston Library Newsletter (1997-2011)
Started with a grant from the Lewiston Volunteer Fire Department, run by Chief Jesse Cox, the town's very first and only newsletter was born. It's primary focus was to publicize the events and happenings of the local library, which it did for more than a decade. Following a brief hiatus, the newsletter was revamped and began circulation once more, in 2013, with the same editorial staff (and the same editor/publisher who still holds the copyright, at the helm). Today, the publication continues to serve the people of Lewiston, now in its expanded form, with articles pertaining to the town's glorious past as well as current events news and other cool stuff.

2. The Lewiston Website (2003)
It's the sister publication to the Lewiston Community Newsletter (see above) and it serves basically the same function: to bring attention to the historic mining town with articles and information that folks from outside the area can utilize as much as area residents have since the very beginning. With the URL, the site is not to be confused with the historic building of the same name, but more fully represents the town of Lewiston by and large. And, you're on it right now!

1. Memorials: B.F. Lewis/Tom Palmer (2006/2012)
From the ashes of a burned out home that once stood near the junction of Schoolhouse Road and Lewiston Road, came some astounding revelations about the town's long-forgotten origins. After the historic Lewis-Scott-Cox House burned in 2005, area researcher Steve Lindsay undertook an extensive investigation into the historical record. What he uncovered, with the assistance of local historian J.A. Scribner, was nothing less than the answer to many of the mysteries surrounding the life and times of Lewiston's very founder and his family. And what no other researchers were able to do in its 150+ years as an incorporated California town, would ultimately result in a trifecta of achievements for Lewiston: a long-overdue bestowing upon the town's namesake a grave marker at his final resting place in The Dalles, Oregon; a memorial stone in old town Lewiston dedicated to Tom Palmer, Lewis's mentor; and a much-needed update to the historical record in Trinity County.
For a more detailed accounting of this amazing story, click here!

Who can forget the very raison d'etre of the institution itself: the grant moneys received from the state to restore the historic buiding to its former glory. In the early 1990's the future of the schoolhouse remained uncertain, until Doris Callahan, former Weaverville librarian and the granddaughter of Lewiston pioneer, Commodore Kise, intervened (see our "About Us" page for photos). After tens of thousands of dollars were pumped into the project, it wasn't long before the town finally had a place for its very own library, and later, a pioneer museum. But the grant funding didn't stop there. Beginning again in 2006, moneys were received from regional organizations in separate grants to fund a revamping of the library's childrens books section, a new computer, and even foodstuffs, which were donated to the town's original food bank on behalf of the non-profit. And, in point of fact, none of the grant moneys received was ever invested in the stock market.

Questions about Lewiston history? Comments about this site? Click here!