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Historic Lockeford schoolhouse under restoration

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Posted: Monday, June 28, 2004 10:00 pm

After years of talking about ways to preserve Lockeford history and make it a safer community, work has begun on several fronts.

New brickwork adorns the old Lockeford Schoolhouse in a major restoration of the 1876 structure on Jack Tone Road.

And the 19th-century grain warehouse owned by D.H. Winn Trucking has been saved from the wrecking ball.

Work has also begun, after several postponements, to install a traffic light at the intersection of Victor Road and Highway 88, which Lockeford residents have requested for years to improve traffic safety.

However, the light isn't scheduled for use until October 2005. Caltrans spokeswoman Stacy Dukes said she hasn't been able to find out why the project will take more than a year.

The Lockeford Schoolhouse building, used in recent years for the senior nutrition program, wedding receptions and meetings, has some new wrinkles on it while maintaining its historic look during the first phase of construction.

The white wooden structure is now set atop a foundation that never existed before, bricks have been laid around the bottom of the structure and concrete is being placed on top of what was a dirt basement.

Earlier this year, the building was lifted about 2 feet so the foundation could be poured.

"It's not cheap to lift up an old building," said Leslie Crow, a Stockton historian hired by the Community Services District to oversee the building's historic preservation.

"Just like any old citizen, you have to be careful," she added. "This is not new construction, so it is more costly."

With masonry, dirt and rebar showing, Mickey James shovels earth onto the ramp for the disabled he and others, including Eric Thompson, a cement finisher, are working on at the old Lockeford Schoolhouse. Both men are from Stockton and work for D.B. Builders. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

Workers were busy Monday placing some red bricks around the cement-laden handicap ramp leading to the back door. Steps will lead to the basement. Other steps will go to the two doors to the back, or east, side of the building, said Eric Thompson, a cement finisher from Stockton.

The first phase, which costs about $222,000, also calls for installing new stairs at the building's front door, James said.

District board members have yet to prioritize the restoration's second phase, but it may include a new roof, restrooms and a belfry that looks identical to the original belfry in the late 1800s, Crow said.

The second phase will cost about $400,000. Some $269,000 has been reserved by San Joaquin County for the project, and there will be some money left over from two state grants totaling $200,000, according to Crow.

The restoration will be financed in part through $250,000 of state Proposition 12 park bond money and another $270,000 allocated by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors for a new community center. The district will need to find a way to finance the extra $100,000 needed to complete the project.

The building was used as a school from 1876 until 1976, when the state determined it wasn't seismically safe.

About two blocks from the old schoolhouse, the Clements-Lockeford Lions Club and Lodi Unified School District have reached a tentative agreement to form a partnership that will achieve three purposes - expand Lockeford Elementary School on Tully Road, preserve another 19th-century structure for historically rich Lockeford and to provide a clubhouse for the Lions Club.

The 128-year-old Lockeford School has been raised and given a new foundation as renovations are underway at the Jack Tone Road site. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

The agreement, subject to school board approval, calls for the Lions Club to purchase the old D.H. Winn grain warehouse, plus 40 feet north of the 12,000-square-foot warehouse on Hammond Street and 10 feet west and south of the building.

The school district, which had planned to purchase the Winn property, but tear down the historic building, would instead purchase land east of the building and negotiate with the DaLuca property, located to the west of the Winn property, said Lions Club member Preston Ledbetter, who is spearheading the project.

Mamie Starr, Lodi Unified's assistant superintendent of facilities and planning, was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

Due to the passage of Measure K, a $109.3 million bond measure adopted by school district voters in March 2003, Lodi Unified officials are looking to acquire the Winn and DaLuca property to expand the overcrowded Lockeford school and possibly add or move seventh- and eighth-grade there. Middle-school students in Lockeford and Clements attend Houston School in Acampo.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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