The Lakewood Public Schools - 1984: A Compilation of Histories

George Grill: The Lakewood Schools from 1911 to 1936

Lakewood Is Progressive in Education: Assistant Superintendent of Schools Relates Interesting Development of System Herein Over Twenty-five Year Span
By George W. Grill

Back in 1911, when the Suburban News issued No.1 of Volume I, our suburb had a total population of approximately 16,000 and the school population numbered approximately 3,000. There were 77 teachers in the system and on January 16 of that year, Mr. Charles P. Lynch began his long and notable career as our Superintendent of Schools. The High School was housed in the building on Warren Road, now known as Wilson School, and the 300 high school students with their teachers left sufficient room in the building to house the administrative staff as well. The manual training work of the High School, which had been introduced but a few years previously, was housed in the little annex on the Victoria Avenue side of the present school administration building. There were no junior high schools in Lakewood until ten years later.

Garfield School on Detroit Avenue, opposite Grace Avenue, in 1911 was half the size of the present building. Construction on the east half of the building was begun during that year. In 1916 the Baptist Church property was purchased and added to this site, the church building now forming the gymnasium and assembly hall for this school.

McKinley School on West Clifton Boulevard, consisted of ten rooms in 1911. Some idea of the mounting cost of building construction may be gleaned from the fact that the eight-room addition to this building constructed in 1915 cost slightly more than $78,000.00 while a four-room addition added in 1921 cost slightly over $76,000.00.

Grant School on the west side of Warren Rd. was our largest elementary building. It stood on a one-half acre site purchased in 1871 for $300.00. The original four-room building was constructed in 1899 and a nine-room annex was added in 1906. The building was increased to its present size by a two-room annex in 1912.

Harrison School on Dowd Street consisted of eight rooms back in 1911, to which an eight-room addition was added in 1916 and another eight-room addition in 1921. The 1921 addition also contains rooms for Americanization classes and a combination auditorium and gymnasium.

Franklin School on Franklin and Lewis Drive contained four rooms. A four-room addition in 1915 and another four-room addition in 1921 were needed to keep up with the rapidly growing population in that area.

Lincoln School with its 27 rooms at the corner of Clifton, Lakeland, and Summit did not exist when the Suburban News first saw the light of day. The original 11 rooms were built in 1913 and eight-room annexes were added in 1916 and 1920.

Madison School with its 19 rooms did not exist in 1911. The original 11 rooms were built in 1912 and four-room annexes were built in 1915 and 1916.

Roosevelt School's original eight rooms were occupied for the first time in 1922 and within six years, two eight-room annexes had to be added to keep up with the rapidly growing school population. If one has any lingering doubts as to the influence of a school in a neighborhood on property values, these doubts can be easily dispelled by a short automobile trip on Fisher Road from Warren Road to Highland Avenue. The center of this road is the boundary line between Lakewood and Cleveland. Both sides of this street were equally barren prior to the building of Roosevelt School. All of the territory north of Fisher Road is 100% occupied, most of the families moving there since the school was built. The Cleveland side of Fisher Road, still lacking school facilities, still remains, for the most part, weed grown fields.

Hayes School in southwest Lakewood repeated for its territory the history of Roosevelt School. The original twelve rooms were built in 1924, and within five years, two annexes were needed to house the children who with their parents moved into the houses that quickly arose in that district.

In 1926, the last of the elementary schools of Lakewood was completed; Taft, on Whippoorwill Drive between Lake Avenue and Clifton Boulevard. This school was completely filled on the day it was opened and has remained so up to the present time.

The history of junior high schools in Lakewood falls wholly within the lifetime of the Suburban News. The general population of Lakewood grew with such rapidity that within a twelve-year period, the high school enrollment compelled the abandonment of the old high school building on Warren Road and the construction of the present group of buildings known as Lakewood High School at Bunts Road and Franklin Avenue. The old building on Warren Road had housed the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. The new group of buildings was designed to take care of the six upper grades. The new plant was occupied in 1918. Within a three-year period it became so crowded with six grades that relief was necessary and Emerson Junior High School was built to accommodate the 7th, 8th and 9th grades. There was no breathing spell for the Board of Education between the completion and occupancy of Emerson School and the beginning of construction of Horace Mann Junior High School. The Emerson plans and specifications were used for the second building in order to save time and expense. As soon as this building was completed, more 7th, 8th, and 9th grade pupils were released from the Senior High School, but still the number was more than the plant could comfortably accommodate.

In the meantime, the Board of Education had purchased the Mullally property on Hilliard Road, at the corner of what is now Woodward Avenue, for a third junior high school. Plans and specifications were drawn and the contract let for this building and construction was in progress when President Harding died out in San Francisco. His name was given to the building and the Lakewood Kiwanis Club gave a magnificent picture of President Harding to the school on its dedication day. The opening of this school finally released the Lakewood High School plant for complete use as a senior high school, thus relieving the over-crow4ed condition that obtained as long as there were junior high school students in the building.

During the years since 1930, the school population of Lakewood, like the total population, has remained substantially even in numbers.' An interesting change, however, has been going on within the school system. The elementary schools have fewer pupils now than five years ago, but this loss has been off set by a corresponding increase in the number of senior high school pupils, so that again the senior high building is accommodating approximately 2,700 students, though it was originally planned to accommodate only 2,000.

The hectic building activity of the Board of Education, which began about the time the Suburban News was founded and continued up until 1927, successfully met the rapidly growing school population. Occasionally during this period of time it was necessary for schools to operate on double session and occasionally for short periods of time a few basement rooms were in use, but every effort was made by the Board to avoid these conditions and a notable degree of success was registered. During all but the latter part of this period, the Board's architect was Charles W. Hopkinson of Edgewater Drive in Lakewood, who designed the buildings and supervised their construction. Taft School and the annexes to Hayes and Roosevelt Schools were designed and their construction supervised by Mr. James W. Thomas. All of the schools built by these two architects are of modern, fireproof construction and excellent design.

Superintendent Charles P. Lynch began his administrative career as head of the Lakewood school system in January of 1911, as has been stated. He continued in that office for 16 years and retired in 1927 full of years and honors and with a record of accomplishment and achievement of which any citizen of the community might well be proud. The Board of Education combed the United States to find a worthy successor and eventually conferred the title of Superintendent of Schools upon Mr. Julius E. Warren, then serving as Assistant Superintendent in Springfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Warren remained at the head of the school system for seven years, his notable contribution to Lakewood education having been a revised and greatly amplified course of study and a unified administrative plan for the entire system. He submitted his resignation two years ago, in order to accept the superintendency in the city of Newton, Massachusetts, one of the larger suburbs of Boston, where he is still rendering outstanding service.

Again the United States was combed by the Board of Education to find a worthy successor to Mr. Warren. In the applications that were submitted, nearly every state in the Union was represented and all of the great universities and teachers' colleges of the country nominated worthy persons for the position. After months of consideration and scores of meetings, the Board offered the position to Mr. George A. Bowman of Marion, Ohio, who had had a notable career as Superintendent of Schools in several other Ohio cities. Mr. Bowman's two years of service have amply demonstrated his grasp of educational procedure and his fine quality of leadership, and the Board's wisdom in choosing him.

This quarter century of educational advance in our suburb has been a good measure of the quality of citizens who have served as members of the Board of Education. Among these citizens who deserve to have statues erected to their memory or gold medals awarded to them for their service to the cause of education may be mentioned such well known names as Otto W. Carpenter; Jacob C. Hoffman; George F. Hart; Robert G. Curren; and Frank N. Barton, who were members of the Board that chose Mr. Lynch as the Superintendent of Schools.

These members were succeeded by such well known citizens as Benjamin D. Fuller; David G. Jaeger; Mrs. C. Lee Graber; Otto F. Leopold; A. G. Gibson; and William F. Ulrich. It was this group of Board members who purchased the 18 acres of land from Mrs. Bertha G. McMuler as a site for the enlarged Lakewood High School, and who built the group of buildings.

The November election of 1919 brought a group of citizens to the Board of Education who achieved national prominence as the model school board. Included in this group are such names as Frank L. Sessions; Cleaveland R. Cross; Mrs. Bernice S. Pyke; Mrs. Mina L. Nase; A. F. Allen; and R. B. Robinette. During their term of service, the largest number of buildings were built and the greatest expansion of the school system took place. Nearly every post graduate of the educational administration in the United States-is familiar with their names because of a model set of minutes and bond transcript which were included in a book entitled "Public School Business Administration" written by Professor N. L. Engelhardt of Columbia University and Fred N. Engelhardt of the University of Minnesota and published by the Bureau of Publications of Teachers College of Columbia University. This set of minutes and this bond transcript were written by the writer of this article. This group of Board members built the swimming pool at Lakewood High School, the grandstand and connecting corridors between the buildings at the High School, the three junior high schools, Taft, Hayes, and Roosevelt elementary schools, and added ten annexes to various elementary school buildings. They also established the policy which the Board has continued since to follow with respect to High School fraternities and sororities, compulsory vaccination, and medical and dental services.

Major John M. Snead, who came to Cleveland to supervise the construction of the Union Trust Building and who remained to supervise the construction of the Ohio Bell Telephone Building and the Terminal group of the Public Square, took up his residence in Lakewood when he first came to Cuyahoga County. He served a four-year term as member of the Board which ended December 31, 1935. During most of his term, he was Chairman of the Boards important Committee on Buildings and Sites.

The present members of the Board are T. F. McDonald, President; Morris H. Phillips, Vice-President; Mrs. Jean B. Dawson, Arthur J. Hudson, and Melville W. Vickery.

The present Board is concerned with problems relating to restoration of the salaries of employees to a level commensurate with the needs of the employees and the kind of community that Lakewood aspires to be. Another major problem is the restoration of some of the educational positions and educational services that were discontinued as a result of the depression. Other problems relate to the financing of the school system in such times as these, with uncertain and tardy tax collections and a plan of state support that has been changed each year it has been in operation. The board has met these problems honestly, firmly, and wisely and the members of the Board deserve the gratitude of the people of Lakewood for maintaining high educational standards in the community all through a very trying period.

During the quarter century that the Suburban News has been serving Lakewood, the school administration and the Board of Education have enjoyed its powerful support and have appreciated its good editorial advice given freely and generously from time to time. In this matter, the schools have been most fortunate as all of the Lakewood newspapers have been equally cooperative.

The members of the Board, the administrative staff, and the employees all unite in cordial felicitations to the Suburban News on its Silver Anniversary and best wishes for another quarter century of useful service in the community.

George W. Grill, the Lakewood Schools' first Assistant Superintendent (1928 to 1939) wrote this account of the development of the Lakewood Schools from 1911 to 1936. The article appeared in the Lakewood Suburban News and Herald newspaper, July 17, 1936.