In 1909, Pacific Union College moved from their original location in Healdsburg to the town of Angwin, located in the mountains above St. Helena. The college had just purchased the Angwin Resort, which had a hotel building, bowling alleys, and cottages—all of which eventually became dormitories, classrooms, and faculty homes.
PUC’s transition to Angwin included the establishment of an elementary school to serve the faculty and staff children. For many years, the school was housed in the ground floor of the Education building and was used as a demonstration school for teachers in training.
In the early 1950s, Alice Neilsen led in the construction of a separate elementary school, just south of the college campus. The building opened in 1952 with just the lower grade and administrative wings complete. The upper grade wing was completed the following year. Also during this time, one of the original buildings from the Angwin Resort was cut in half and moved to the elementary school to serve as the gymnasium.
In the 1970s, the current 4th and 7th grade rooms were added to the ends of both classroom wings. The current kindergarten classroom, located next to the gym, was built at a later point and was originally used for 5th grade.
The street in front of the school originally cut through the college campus. It was turned into a cul-du-sac and named Neilsen Court, in honor of PUC Elementary’s first principal.
The Oak Tree Logo
PUC Elementary's oak tree logo has significance for many students and alumni. It dominates the school's playground.
This depiction was created by former principal, Woody Ross. He sent a copy of this drawing of the oak tree and a special letter to each of the school's families when he left PUC Elementary in 1998. This is what he wrote about the oak tree and the drawing:
A natural wonder of Pacific Union College Elementary School is the large old oak tree on the playground. Like a magnet, it draws both young and old to gather under its branches.
I have wondered how old it is. Did the Indians of the mountain, who are long gone, ever rest in its shade or gather its acorns and make meal?
Over the last ten years, I have collected many fond memories of events around that giant oak tree. The first was a potluck given so that my family and I could get acquainted with the students, teachers and families of PUC Elementary. There was not enough food for the three hundred or so that came to dinner. My wife ran to the store to make more salad. Panic!! Then I prayed out loud that God would multiply the food as He did with the loaves and fishes so long ago. He did; and to my amazement, we even took food home after the dinner!
Under the spreading branches of that old tree you and I have played, run, jumped, thrown, hit, struck out, caught, fumbled, fallen, tumbled, made touch-downs, had water fights, laughed, cried, screamed, talked, whispered, sat, rested, signed annuals, written papers, thought and prayed. I have prayed for the school and each of you.
I myself have spent many hours under that tree, some in conversation with students, parents, teachers, board members and contractors. Dreams that started under that tree have become reality. Even courtships and romances that began there have become life-long relationships.
Just as this great oak tree started from one small acorn seed, my dream is that the seed of education planted in you at PUC Elementary may continue to grow and that you will become a giant in thinking and in doing. My hope is that, like the oak draws us to this campus, others will be drawn to you because of your Christian character and attitudes.
I have looked at the oak tree thousands of time; I have taken many photographs, drawn a few pictures, and painted more than thirty. I would like to present you with one of these drawings as a keepsake for PUC Elementary School, and as my gift to you as I leave Angwin.
Your friend, teacher, and principal,