The Lakewood Public Schools - 1984: A Compilation of Histories

Margaret Manor Butler: The Lakewood Story

The Lakewood Story by Margaret Manor Butler; with a Foreward by John Lewis Shissler.
Stratford House, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, 1949.


Under the Ohio Common Schools Act of April 9, 1867, three schools were allotted to the area in Rockport which later became Lakewood. They were called schools six, eight and ten.

An election was held on January 28, 1871, between one and four in the afternoon for the purpose of voting on the question of joining these three schools into a separate school district. Everyone voted for it, and from then on the district was known as East Rockport, although officially it was still a part of Rockport.

The first three meetings of the board, held a few days apart in February, 1871, were devoted to election of officers; filing a bond of $5,000 for the treasurer; and making a contract with Miss E. C. Preston to teach at sub district No.6 for $50 per month. Dr. Richard Fry, who had been elected for a two-year term, was chosen chairman, Alfred Elwell, who had been elected for a three-year term, was chosen treasurer, and C. G. Calkins, the one-year member, was chosen clerk.

On February 16, 1871, the members of the Board met with the Township Clerk and Treasurer to examine the township books and to collect the amount apportioned by the Township for sub districts 6, 8, and 10, only to find there were insufficient funds to pay the teachers more than three-fourths of their salary. It was voted to reduce the pay to $45 for the next term, $35 the following year, and before long to $33.33. At this meeting with Township executives, the Lakewood Board learned that the sum of $500 had been levied in May, 1869, for purchase of a new school house lot in district 8, which amount was still available.

The March 2 meeting was held at the home of Alfred Elwell with all members present. Among the first responsibilities were decisions about naming the buildings, employment of teachers, the curricula and conduct. Middle School, which had been No. 6, was located on Warren Road where the present Board of Education Annex is now situated. East School or No. 10 was on the site of the present Garfield, and West School or No. 8 on the site of McKinley. Since Warren Road was most centrally located, board meetings were held in that building or in the homes of members, and later in Joseph Howe's general store at Belle and Detroit. Most important business was the adoption of the following rules for the regulation of the schools.

1st. Scholars shall not be allowed to assemble or to remain upon the school premises at unseasonable times, before the opening, or after the dismissal of the school.
2nd. Scholars, while in the school house, or upon the school grounds, will be required to abstain from rude and boisterous conduct, scuffling and the use of profane and improper language. .
3rd. Scholars are expressly forbidden bringing, or using upon the school premises, any matches, gunpowder, fire-crackers, fireworks, or anything of the kind.
4th. Good order and neatness, in all respects, shall be observed throughout the school premises. and the use of tobacco in the school house shall not, under any circumstances, be allowed.
5th. The law of the State provides that any person who shall injure or in any manner deface any part of the school premises, or any books shall be punished by fine or imprisonment in the county jail.

The 6th ruling stated that only books authorized by the board could be used. The 7th, that any scholar who did not obey the rules of the school or the teacher would be suspended, and the 8th required the teacher to write a daily programme of the school exercises, and endeavor to adhere to it.

Rule No. 9 was adopted at a subsequent meeting and read as follows: "Resolved that in addition to Reading, Spelling and Writing, no scholar shall be required to study more than two of the following studies—viz, Geography, Arithmetic and Grammar."

Important decisions were made at the April 15th meeting. "Resolved that Thompson and Bowlers System of Writing and Copy Books, and Harvey's elementary grammar be adopted for use in the schools, also McGuffey's Readers as new readers are required by the pupils.

"Resolved that the Board will accept the proposal of P. E. Hall for a lot for a schoolhouse in the West district, five rods wide on Detroit, and thirty-two rods long for $1,200, provided a well of good water for drinking can be obtained on said lot." Six months later on September 18, 1871, Mr. Elwell reported having made a contract with Archer Webb for the purchase of about one acre at $1,300, for a schoolhouse lot in the West district. The treasurer's reports of that year and the next year show payments to the Webbs but not the Halls.

West School was finished in 1872, a one-room brick, but the board had a difficult time with teachers. One was fired on a day's notice, one stayed a month, another five days, and finally Sophronia Clague took charge. The old building was sold to C. R. Atwell for $100. On July 24, 1873, the Clerk, C. G. Calkins, was directed to notify C. R. Atwell to remove the building standing on the lot and also to notify the occupants of said building to vacate the premises.

The Good Templar's Lodge, located on the northwest corner of Warren and Hilliard, was purchased on August 9, 1873, for $160. It was used for board meetings, annual school elections and for classes while the new building was being erected. Several years later it was rented to a dramatic society. Here plays were enacted and dances held. For a long time "The Lodge" was the recreational center of Lakewood.

Board problems for the next few years were concerned with finances, such as selling apples, renting school property for pasturing at $3 per month, payment of teachers' wages, contracting for coal, hiring janitors at $1 per week, the purchase of a clock, maps and a dictionary, and a suit against the Township for the balance of $337.20 due the school district on the division of funds.

Biggest problem of all was the construction of a new four-room brick schoolhouse on Warren Road, on the site of Middle School. It was voted to name it "Central School" and was to be a combination grade and high school.

Original plans made by Coburn and Barnum, architects, called for a two-room brick, but plans were changed to make it a four-room structure. Low bidders were Latimer and Clements for mason work, and E. A. Cass for carpenter's work. An extra charge was made for carving the name "East Rockport Central School" and the date "1879", on the front of the building.

With the opening of the new building, S. H. Herriman was chosen the first superintendent and teacher of the higher department at a salary of $75 per month. There were three elementary teachers. During his administration and that of William C. Lippert, who succeeded him in 1882, more emphasis was placed on the curriculum and educational improvements. Colton's Geography was adopted instead of Guyots. School session was divided into three terms. Compulsory rhetorical exercises were instituted. A course of instruction was ordered printed for the primary schools, a code of rules adopted and a circular letter explaining them sent to the parents.

The Board of Education, now consisting of six members, listened attentively to a discussion of the merits of Appleton's and McGuffey's Readers, and then decided to use McGuffey's. Reading charts, examination papers, promotion certificates. lamps, globes and books were purchased. Ray's Practical Arithmetic was introduced, as well as the new Eclectic History. In 1882 a three-year high school course was introduced. Announcement was made that German would be taught in the grammar and high school. (In May, 1918, the faculty at Lakewood High declared that all students enrolled in German courses were exempt from taking the exams. Students celebrated with a huge bonfire in which all German texts were burned.) In 1896 the first four-year high school course was introduced.


Mr. Herriman urged the appointment of a Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. On April 30, 1880, L. D. French (a grandson of pioneer Price French) was appointed to the job of keeping in repair the buildings and furniture and securing supplies for the use of the teachers, pupils and janitors. His first assignments were building a rostrum and fences, securing a suitable pump, outdoor toilets, lightning rods, and having the curtains washed and ironed.

For many years the task of maintenance was a one-man job with occasional outside help. The three one-room schoolhouses needed few repairs, but when changes were made and new buildings added, the staff increased to fit requirements. The ten elementary schools, three junior highs and the high school have grown in structure to accommodate Lakewood's youthful population. They are listed here in chronological order with major changes recorded.

East School, a one-room brick, was partitioned into two rooms in 1891, and was replaced by a four-room colonial brick designed by James Christford in 1893. A two-room frame relief building was built in 1897. The main building was enlarged to eight rooms in 1901, and sixteen rooms in 1911. The Baptist Church property adjoining was purchased in 1916, giving plenty of space for school grounds. This beautiful colonial building is our present Garfield School, on Detroit Avenue opposite Grace Avenue.

Middle School, originally a one-room brick, was replaced by a four-room brick in 1879 and named "Central." It was a combination grade and high school. 'When Grant and Wilson Schools were built nearby, Central served as the Board of Education headquarters, with offices for the superintendent, supervisors, and purchasing agent. A manual training addition was made on the Victoria Avenue side in 1907. At present it houses the Recreation Department, the Maintenance and Operation Department, storerooms and shops. It is called the Board of Education Annex and is located on "Warren Road near Detroit. The name "East Rockport Central School" and "1879" may still be seen over the entrance.

West School, a frame building, was partitioned into two rooms in 1871, but was sold for $100 and removed in 1873, when a new one-room brick was built (see photo). A frame addition was added to the rear of this small building in 1896. It was replaced by a four-room brick building in 1899, the nucleus of the present building facing West Clifton. Additions were made in 1905, 1915 and 1921. West School is our present McKinley School of twenty-two rooms and a gymnasium, located on West Clifton Boulevard near Detroit.

The building on Warren Road, known today as the Board of Education Building, was Lakewood's first separate high school, a two-story brick colonial called the "High School". The section facing Warren was started in 1899, but the first class was not held there until the fall of 1900, according to Herbert Kennedy, the first principal, who arrived the day before school opened to find no seats or desks in the building.

This high school was used until 1904 when a new, much larger high school, later called Wilson, was erected opposite it on the east side of Warren. The first high school was then used as an elementary school, and in 1906 a nine-room brick-facing Victoria was connected to the original building and the entire unit called Grant School. In 1912 two more rooms were added, making fifteen rooms.

Today the Victoria section of 9 rooms is called Grant and accommodates the first four grades of elementary school. Wilson, also called the "High School", was the second high school until 1918, when the present High School was erected; then Wilson became an elementary school and a Junior High. It later was condemned for school purposes, but was used as a recreation and Red Cross center for a number of years, and finally torn down in 1947.

South School, later called Harrison, was in the "Carbon District", the fourth area to demand educational facilities. A frame building purchased in 1895 was replaced the following year by a two-room brick building. In 1904 two more rooms were added and in 1906 four more. Additional lots were purchased for playgrounds, and a frame dwelling on one of them was used as a relief building. In 1916 eight more rooms were added, and in 1921 there was a further addition of eight rooms. During 1930, parochial schools were being built in this district and they drained to a large extent the attendance at Harrison. In 1948 the part facing Dowd Street was torn down. Harrison now has twenty-one rooms and a gym, and has been completely renovated. It is located on Dowd and Quail.

In 1907 Franklin School was built as a four-room brick. Four additional rooms were added in 1915 and four more in 1921. This is a twelve-room building located on Franklin Avenue at Lewis Drive.

Madison School was built in 1912 as an eleven-room unit. Four additional rooms were built in 1915 and four more in 1916, making a total of nineteen rooms. The school is located on Madison opposite Wagar.

Lincoln School was built as an eleven-room building in 1913, added eight rooms in 1916 and again in 1920, making it a twenty-seven-room building. It is located on Clifton Boulevard, Summit, and Lakeland.

In the fall of 1917, the Board of Education approved a resolution recommending the change from the so-called 8-4 plan, that is eight years of elementary school work and four years of high school work, to the 6-3-3 plan, which was to provide a six-year elementary course, a three-year junior high, and a three-year senior high. This plan involved a building program, which was to provide a new high school and such junior high schools as would meet the local needs.

The new Lakewood High School, a million dollar plant, was scheduled to open in September, 1918, but the building was not ready and the opening date was rescheduled for October 7, but when that date rolled around, opening was once more postponed because of the prevalence of the "flu". Teachers, however, had arrived early and soon found themselves unpacking supplies, dusting books, washing dishes, putting up shelves and even canning tomato juice. Seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth grades came in for a short orientation period, but the "flu" epidemic was assuming huge proportions and school was dismissed. The Lakewood Press reports on November 21, 1918, that the new high school, which had finally opened after the epidemic, was a veritable hive of activity, intellectual, physical and mechanical. It was only open for a week, when all schools were closed until the first of the year. The youngsters did not enjoy their enforced vacation, because all places of amusement were also closed.

School started in earnest in January, 1919, and sessions were held on Saturday to make up work. The assigned curriculum was completed by July 3. Uniforms for the girls were dark blue skirts and middy blouses, and the boys wore khaki uniforms, similar to those adopted by the Cleveland Board of Education.

The men's and women's buildings of the high school were opened the next year. In 1928 the Brigg's Swimming Pool was dedicated in honor of Claude P. Briggs, a high school principal. In 1941 the Athletic Stadium was dedicated. Lakewood High is a sixty classroom building with a library, an auditorium, two gymnasiums and a cafeteria. It is located on an eighteen-acre site on Franklin at Bunts, extending to Madison. It originally belonged to the Dr. Kirtland estate.

Four junior highs were included in the original plans, but only three have been built so far. Emerson was the first junior high opened in February, 1922. There was a gala open house on April 11, with a tour of the building and an address by President Charles F. Thwing of Western Reserve University. Emerson has twenty-eight classrooms, a library, an auditorium, a gymnasium and a cafeteria. It is located on Clifton Boulevard at the corner of Jackson and extends to Emerson Street.

Horace Mann Junior High was opened in September, 1922, and was an exact duplicate of Emerson Junior High. Horace Mann is located on "West Clifton Boulevard, north of McKinley School.

Harding Junior High was opened in September, 1925, with an auditorium addition to be completed in 1927. It is situated on Hilliard Road adjoining Madison School. It has twenty-nine classrooms, a library, an auditorium, a gymnasium and a cafeteria.

The fourth junior high school site was purchased north of Franklin at Bunts and has been used for tennis courts and practice field. The need for a fourth junior high never developed.

The section south of Madison developed rapidly after the Madison car line was opened. To meet increased school enrollment, Roosevelt School was built as an eight-room unit in 1922. Two eight-room sections were added in 1928, making a total of twenty-four rooms.

Hayes School, a building of twelve rooms, was opened for classes October 12, 1925, receiving much criticism because most people could not see the need for a school in a section surrounded by woods. However, the population grew so rapidly that two annexes of six rooms each were built and ready February, 1928. In 1948 the school reported twenty-five rooms, a large auditorium and a P. T. A. room. Hayes is located at W401 Delaware Avenue.

About this time relief was also needed in the northeastern part of Lakewood, and Taft School, a building of thirteen rooms and an auditorium, was opened January 24, 1927. This also relieved Emerson Junior High, which had been carrying some elementary classes. Taft is located between Lake and Clifton at Whipporwill Drive.

The 1948 report of the Board shows that there was a library, visual education room and a combination gymnasium and auditorium in each elementary school with the exception of Franklin, which had no auditorium. The junior and senior high schools each had a library, an auditorium and a cafeteria. The junior highs had one gym, the senior high two. In a number of cases classes have been divided to make two rooms.

The school Maintenance Department today has little semblance to the one-man crew of Mr. French's day. The staff consists of a director, a secretary, and seven assistants composed of an electrical crew, general maintenance crew, a driver and mechanic.

In May, 1946, bonds to the amount of $1,900,000 were voted for repairing and improving the various buildings. Very little had been done prior to that time, and many of the buildings needed major changes such as replacement of antiquated sanitary facilities, forty-year-old heating plants and leaky roofs. Every school building in Lakewood has shared in this latest rehabilitation program. Illustrative of its wide scope are the changes at the High School and Harrison School.

Major improvements at the High School included a choral music room, soundproofed and re-lighted with modern fixtures; another soundproof room with elevated seats for the band rehearsals; and the rehabilitation of the antique chemistry equipment, which has been in use since the first high school was erected.

The biggest project of the summer 1948 was carried on at Harrison School. Here the razing of the Dowd Street building provided additional playground space, and when landscaped, greatly improved the appearance of the school. A modern health room and dispensary was provided. Long outmoded toilet facilities were replaced with modern sanitation throughout. A new principal's office now faces Quail Street. The library was completely remodeled with soundproof ceiling to provide the quiet atmosphere for library work. The entire building was redecorated and the lighting improved.

While these major projects were going on, custodians and their assistants in the various units were busy with innumerable cleaning, scrubbing and repairing tasks in the buildings and cultivation of trees, lawn, hedges and cleaning of playgrounds near the buildings. Everything had been planned and organized with one objective in mind-to provide the best possible environment for the boys and girls of Lakewood, stressing health, safety and cleanliness.

For the past eight years Lakewood has pioneered in painting classrooms in color, no two adjoining rooms the same. Studies and suggestions were made by the Glidden Color Studio for various rooms, depending on their furnishings, type, location, etc. Lakewood has also pioneered in schoolroom lighting. Many of the old lights have been discarded for new type fluorescent.

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Margaret Manor Butler, Lakewood historian, contributed a distinguished account of the development of the Lakewood Schools from the 1800's to 1948 in Chapter XII of her book The Lakewood Story.