The year was 1936 - the Great Depression of the 1930's was finally over and things were beginning to look a little better for the 70 members of the Tillamook Seventh-Day Adventist Church and their thoughts turned toward a church school. Pledges were made and the sacrificing began. Slowly the funds came - finally by the Board Meeting in July of 1937 the believers had $29.46 in their precious fund. After much discussion it was determined that in order to have a church school, they would need to raise at least $50/month. They voted to take a special offering one Sabbath each month for the school. Church elders also visited members to encourage them to pledge what they could.
In August of 1937, Brother Elmer Daugherty offered a room at his house to be used for the school. In September of 1937 the first Tillamook Adventist School opened with 16 students representing 7 families. Miss Marguerite Huffman taught grades 2 though 7 - as there were no first graders enrolled the first year. As the school year progressed, it became apparent that transportation was a problem. The Daugherty's home was located on Fawcett Creek south of Tillamook. To mitigate the transportation issues, the church voted to buy gas and oil by the barrel and store it at the Daugherty's for use by the three drivers. In addition to the very poor condition of the road, there was a narrow plank bridge with no rails across the creek.
Tillamook Adventist School was founded in 1937 by a small group of progressive church members who sought a Christian education for their children. In 1938 the school was moved into the side room of the Church at 4th and Laurel - where it remained until 1941. In August 1940, plans were finalized for a permanent school facility. So, after much prayer, the decision was made to purchase ½ acre in the Stillwell Addition at the West end of 5th street for $300. They would build a 1200 square foot building with a hip roof and rustic siding. The lumber came from the "Tabernacle" which they tore down. In April of 1941 they moved into their new school and the teachers were Mrs. Taylor, whose husband was the pastor, and Mr. Butterfield. There were two teachers for several years during the WWII era.
In the spring of 1946, one of the teachers became ill and was hospitalized in Portland. One of the parent volunteers was asked to take over the classroom for the remaining weeks of the school year. She continued to teach the upper grades for the next five (5) years at a wage of $60/month. Each test was sent to the Conference Office for review and approval before being given to the students.
As the two-teacher school continued to flourish, the sustained growth of the student body prompted plans for an addition to the school. In 1951 an addition to the school was finished. A classroom and two restrooms were added. These additions increased the space and modernized the existing facility. Later, a covered play area and playground equipment were added. A bus was also purchased that year, which was used to transport students from Pacific City. This lasted only one year, and the bus was sold.
As the little school thrived, it became evident that in spite of the efforts to meet the increased needs of the growing school, a more far-reaching blueprint was necessary. The students were outgrowing the small facility, which was plagued with many structural problems. A past student remembered helping teachers put buckets out to catch the leaks during the winter rains. The addition in 1951 was built on top of the original school's outhouses. So, by the early 70's the addition had an enormous sag in the center of the room. The "swamp" as we called it, had a tile floor and by the end of the day, all of the desks in this area had slid to the middle of the room.
In 1976 the school experienced some significant problems with the sewer system in the boy's restroom. One of the church members had hired a plumber to fix the problem. The Principal, Rick Utt, was excited that the problem had been repaired and joked about having a day off to celebrate the generosity of this member. Arriving at school the next day we were greeted by Mr. Utt telling us that we did indeed have the day off - not because the Board agreed - because the school was flooded!
Realizing that the school needed significant improvements, the church looked at several options to improve the facility. Some of the options included purchase of the old Kilchis School and gym; construction of a new school on property near Circle Drive; or construction of a new facility on the 5th street property. After much research and prayer, the decision was made to purchase the eight acres on the corner of 12th Street and Marolf Loop, for the construction of a modern school complex. This purchase was made in September of 1977.
The school hired contractor John Armstrong to lead the building effort. John and his family lived on the school grounds as the construction began in August of 1978. In February of 1979 the school building project had a significant setback. A violent windstorm knocked the framed walls of the gymnasium to the ground. Undeterred, the dedicated members reconstructed the fallen walls, and continued on with the project. Through many hours of prayer, planning, faithful financial support, and the unselfish donation of time and talent, the dream of the new school became a reality. Late in the spring of 1980, the school facility was ready for occupation by excited students and staff.
As the school continued to grow, the addition of 9th grade occurred in the fall of 1983, and by 1991, 10th grade was added allowing TAS the status of a full-fledged Junior Academy. Tillamook Adventist School continued to grow while offering exceptional Christian education. The physical plant was modified several times to eventually include five classrooms, a library, and music room.
On April 26, 2000, the building was completely destroyed by fire. The physical plant was a total loss - but our school remained intact. One short week after the fire, school was in session once again - in the Tillamook Seventh-day Adventist Church.
At the groundbreaking of the new school Sunday, February 11, 2001, then School Board Chairman, Eric Swanson said, "Tillamook Adventist School was founded in 1937 by a small group of progressive church members who sought a Christian education for their children. So now it is our turn - just like those progressive church members some 64 years ago - we too have the opportunity to build a facility to continue offering academic excellence in an atmosphere that honors Jesus." Eric is the first former student of TAS to become the School Board Chairman.
The Grand Opening of our new school building was held on March 10, 2002. The next day, classes resumed at the Twelfth Street location, just less than two years after fire destroyed the old school.