It's a family project that's lasted nearly two years - and in the process it's a project that has transformed a historical landmark into a fantastic vision of central Oregon terrain and the people who live here.
>The Lone Pine schoolhouse never looked so good, what with more than a dozen lifesize murals covering the walls
Eileen Vollertsen and her daughter Tiffany originally took on the project of sprucing up the old Lone Pine School as a way of helping owners and lifelong friends, Chuck and Connie Hegele of Walking H Ranch.
Tiffany was first on the scene, pitching in to help the restoration effort which began shortly after the Hegeles purchased the school from Crook County School District.
Both the Hegeles and the Vollertsens are fairly recent residents to central Oregon, having moved here from the Portland area. "I moved over here to be closer to my family and I loved the area," Eileen explained. "I felt like I came home when I moved over here."
The Hegeles are no strangers to real estate dealings as they have been involved in other restoration and building projects in Portland. "When we moved over to Lone Pine, we saw how the school was going down hill and we decided that we wanted to buy it," Connie Hegele said. "It's a very nice building."
The school is about 8500 square feet located on three acres on the corner of Lone Pine and Butler Roads about 15 miles from Prineville.
The original intent behind the restoration project was to retain the function of the building as a school. Exterior work began about three years ago with new landscaping and exterior work.
Then, about a year later, work began on the interior. "We started working for Connie at the school, at first just to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and to help restore the building," Tiffany explained. "And then Connie wanted clouds on the walls because she thought they were too bare." A few wispy clouds high on the walls soon led to a mural on one wall. That mural has since led to over a dozen more lining the long hallways and dressing up the bathrooms.
"We wanted to keep the murals in line with central Oregon scenery and try to depict what is actually available in the Lone Pine valley," Hegele said.
Certainly the artists have accomplished that goal as every wall details bucolic scenes of local life. (With the exception of one far wall where a blue whale swims blissfully along the Oregon coast.)
On one wall Lone Pine pioneer Richard Butler is shown sitting in a 1920 Ford surrounded by valley scenery. Across the hall sits Jim Lane, the farrier next to `Couter', a Tennesse Walker belonging to Candy Hegele.
Down the hall a herd of Kiger mustangs kick up the dust oblivious to the gaze of a central Oregon cougar on a near wall.
From the hallway walls to the bathrooms to the kitchen every wall is a look at local life, giving viewers a new appreciation for what this country has to offer.
Central Oregon residents will have the opportunity to view the restoration effort and enjoy the many colorful murals themselves this weekend. The artists and owners are offering an open house barbeque and pot luck on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.
"A lot of people still don't know where Lone Pine is, so we're hoping to get people out here to see the school and enjoy the murals." concluded Hegele.
The Lone Pine School is also currently available for rent by the owners. For more information call 548-3246.