School Hourse Retreat and Cultural Center

The SchoolHouse Story

   The SchoolHouse has served for many years as a place of community and learning. It opened its doors as the Wagner Creek School in 1929, a grand two-classroom building that replaced an earlier one-room school built on the same site around the turn of the century. This new Wagner Creek School provided grades one through eight for students from the surrounding rural community. Around 30 to 40 children attended each year. It also served as the voting precinct and as a center for many kinds of community activities. Families would gather at the school for PTA meetings, box socials, hayrides, and cakewalks — all the events that make up the fabric of rural social life.

Eventually the Wagner Creek School went the way of most country schools of its kind. It closed in 1951 when the district consolidated with the Phoenix school district. In the years following its closure, the schoolhouse went through a series of owners and declining use as a community center.

In 1975, the property was purchased by the Beveridge family. Poppie Beveridge, her husband, and their four children moved into the building, making it their home and beginning a long process of restoring the old school. Poppie had previously taught in a dance studio in Los Angeles, and soon put one of the classrooms to use as a studio for teaching dance and movement classes. More than 25 years had gone by, but students were once again learning and being nurtured in the venerable old building.

The Beveridges continued to use the schoolhouse as both home and studio, and over nine years gradually restored it to prime condition and secured its placement on the National Historic Registry. Poppie’s husband passed away in 1984 and after her children had flown the nest, she began planning a new incarnation of the schoolhouse. What Poppie envisioned was nothing less than a total makeover that would transform the building and grounds into a first-class retreat, cultural and community center.

After eight years of hard work and dealing with countless contractors, Poppie has finally brought her dream to fruition. The school building now features a studio theater, a library room, a large and comfortable salon, a garden room with expansive windows, a redesigned kitchen and dining space, five graciously appointed guest rooms, Jacuzzi facilities, and lovely gardens. Less apparent are such functional improvements as modern heating and air-conditioning and full wheelchair accessibility. Two new buildings have also been added: the 1,400 square foot Pavillion and picturesque Cottage by the Creek. Both provide additional event rooms and dining spaces, and each in its own way adds to the inviting quality of the SchoolHouse.

Wagner Creek School Reunion

Throughout this extensive renovation, care has been taken to maintain the charm and historic character of the original belfry-topped school.

In May of 2000, Poppie invited former Wagner Creek students to a reunion at the school. All were thrilled to find it still familiar, to walk through its rooms and halls again and rekindle childhood memories. They were equally delighted to find their old school so beautifully and caringly renovated, ready once again to serve as a place of community, learning, and celebration.

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