The Lakewood Public Schools - 1984: A Compilation of Histories

HISTORY OF THE LAKEWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS

HISTORY OF THE LAKEWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS
John Koprowski & Dave Powell
A.P. U.S. History May 1, 1978

I. During the past one hundred and seventy-five years the community in which we live has prospered. What began as just a small numbered rectangle on the two dimensional map of an early surveyor has expanded upward into a third dimension, a dimension in which we now live. As adventurous pioneers began to wander in during the early decades of the nineteenth century, they brought their children along with visions of relentless prosperity. It was these early settlers, such local legends as Mars Wagar and James Nicholson, who saw the need for the education of the children of this sparsely populated area. This need was met then, as it continued to be, through out the years leading up to the present day. Education is still a priority in Lakewood as it was in the nineteenth century whether learning is being carried out from the back room of the settlers old wooden homes or the present public school system of brick buildings. The history of our school system is a long one, but one of rapid growth and expansion.

II. Rockport Schools
A. East
B. West
C. Middle

III. High School History

IV. Elementary Schools

V. Junior High Schools

VI. The growth of the Lakewood school system has paralleled the growth and prosperity of the community surrounding it. Through the years teaching methods and ideas have changed, but the basic goal of students, parents, and administrators have remained the same. That goal is to obtain the finest, most efficient education possible.

During the past one hundred and seventy-five years the community in which we live has prospered. What began as just a small numbered rectangle on the two dimensional map of an early surveyor has expanded upward into a third dimension, a dimension in which we now live. As adventurous pioneers began to wander in during the early decades of the nineteenth century, they brought their children along with visions of relentless prosperity. It was these early settlers, such local legends as Mars Wagar and James Nicholson, who saw the need for the education of the children of this sparsely populated area. This need was met then, as it continued to be, through out the years leading up to the present day. Education is still a priority in Lakewood as it was in the nineteenth century whether learning is being carried out from the back room of the settlers old wooden homes or the present public school system of brick buildings. The history of our school system is a long one, but one of rapid growth and expansion.

Following the pioneer tradition, children were first educated in letters and ciphering near the firesides of their own homes. The first attempt at public education, was carried out in 1829 by a carpenter named Jonathan Parshall. Parshall was not busy and felt himself qualified to teach the youth in the back room of Mars Wagar's horne. Education, however, progressed slowly because, it seems, Parshall should have stuck to carpentry instead of the field of education.

In 1830 a log schoolhouse was built by Mars Wagar and James Nicholson opposite the Nicholson's horne and near the present site of Garfield Elementary school. The first teacher was an unknown woman from Olmstead.

During the 1840's and 50's children attended a log schoolhouse near the present site of St. James Catholic school by Cannon Avenue. Those inhabiting the area near Rocky River could attend the Phinney's Corner school at the present intersection of Wooster Road and Center Ridge Road where the Rocky River Board of Education now stands. Students attending from the present Lakewood side of the river used a "grapevine bridge" near the site of the Hilliard Road Bridge to cross the river.

During the 1860's there was a small wooden schoolhouse at Detroit and Highland Avenues at which Miss Mary Alger taught children mostly of the Detroit Road area farmers. Another one room school was located on Warren Road, near the area of the present Board of Education. The teachers of these early area schools received a monthly salary of about $20. (1)

In the 1867 Common Schools Act it was determined that the Eastern Rockport area would receive three schools. This was the beginning of the present Lakewood School system. On January 28, 1871, it was unanimously decided that these three schools, numbers six, eight and ten, of the Rockport School District be brought together as one school district formally known as "The First Separate School District of Rockport" and encompassing the increasingly populated country along the shores of Lake Erie and the Rocky River, soon to become Lakewood Hamlet.

The first school board did not have the complicated problems of today to put up with. The major job of the board was choosing the books and curricula, though they did have their problems also.

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. (2)

The early teachers received, at first, a pay of $50 a month but when the board finally examined the books, they found, as many school systems find today, that funds were short. They voted on February 16, 1871 that the teachers' monthly wages be decreased to $45 for the next term, taken down to $35 the next. School year and eventual hopes were to finally lower monthly wages to $33.33 a month. It was also at this meeting the board members learned of a May,1869 levy of $500 to the district schools, which was not collected, but even this would not ease the financial problems. (3)

From this initial point onward, the history of the Lakewood school system is one of rapid growth and expansion. The three one room frame schoolhouses' numbers were replaced with names of their locations in the district. Schoolhouse number six became known as Middle School. It was located on Warren Road at the present site of the Lakewood Board of Education. The old Rockport District school number ten was renamed East School. This schoolhouse was located at the present site of Garfield Elementary on Detroit Avenue opposite Grace. The final building, district school number eight has quite a story behind it. This building was located on the present site of McKinley Elementary on West Clifton Boulevard and was renamed West School. The early school board had contemplated two different building sites for a new one room brick school. One was owned by Mr. P. E. Hall and cost $1,200, the other site was owned by Archer Webb and cost $1,300 for one acre. The Webb property was chosen, and the West School was completed in 1873. The board finally sold the original frame structure which had been partitioned in 1862 into a two room school. The building was sold for $100. The board eventually evicted the residents of the ex-school and it was torn down in 1873. The early West School also had quite a problem with teachers. Teachers in the school lasted for five days, one month, and another was told not to report for her second day of work.

During this early hectic decade the Board meetings were held in many different locations because of the destruction of many of the buildings. Meetings were either held at the Middle School between demolitions or renovations, or at the homes of the board members themselves. It was for the reason of a definite gathering place that the board members voted on August 9, 1873 for the expenditure of $160 for the "Good Templar's Lodge" on the northwest corner of the Warren Road and Franklin Boulevard intersection. This building also served as a school while the one room Warren Road structure was being built. It, however, became useless to the board after the completion of the new brick Middle School. On May 26, 1875 the board voted to rent out the property for a sum of $25 over a period of five years. (4)

The advent of the high school would truly have to be when the first student went beyond the courses in grammar and ciphering they had been learning for their previous schooling years.

Expansion was definitely the key word of these years of maturation. The biggest problem of the board was decided on May 8, 1879, when a new two room brick school was agreed to. On June 5 of that same year plans were changed to have a four room structure built on the grounds of the then standing Middle School. The one room structure was sold to the builders of the new building, Coburn and Barnum, for $50. This new building is still in use today as the Board of Education Annex, housing the Recreation Department on Warren Road. The total cost of the building was approximately $4,700 dollars and that included an extra charge for the name and date of the school which can still be seen above the front entrance. It was from this building in 1885 that the first Lakewood commencement took place. There was only one graduate, Mary Hutchins, who was to become the first alumna. The list of alumni grew slowly, as most of the graduating classes in the next ten years consisted of one to three girls. The first male graduates appeared in 1894, Sion Wenban and Walter F. Wagar.

The modern building called for the employing of the first superintendent and teacher specializing in high school, Mr. S. H. Herriman who received a monthly salary of $75. Superintendent Herriman and his successor, William C. Lippert in 1882, succeeded in the job of upgrading the curriculum by changing the school year to three terms and other restructuring of the schooling process. Herriman pushed for and finally got a Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds on April 30, 1880, this man being A. D. French.

His first assignments were building a rostrum and fences, securing a suitable pump, outdoor toilets, lightning rods, and having the curtains washed and ironed. (5)

In 1895 the curricula of the high school was changed from a three to four year course. Astronomy became an elective, and Latin, German, music and drawing became available courses. The teaching of German lasted for little more than twenty years, however, for during World War I German was dropped from the curricula. The students celebrated by burning their books in a giant bonfire.

The enrollment in the Lakewood schools and High School grew rapidly. It was as a result of this swiftly increasing enrollment that a combination grade and High School, was built next to the Old Central School. This school, however, could not hold the bulk of the students, for the number of pupils enrolled in the High School course had risen sharply.

By 1900 the schools had a state-wide reputation. Parents therefore, eager for educational advantages for their children built in Lakewood so that they might take advantage of the Lakewood Schools. (6)

Building on a new $72,000 high school began in 1904. The new High School, designed to hold grades nine through twelve was erected across the street from the old school on Warren Road. The taxpayers were reluctant to build another school, especially one of this size. The building was, in their opinion too large and costly for the preceeding high school had not yet been paid for. This garish twenty room building was, by comparison, extremely large. But this building was only to last as a High School for a little over two decades before the rapidly increasing Lakewood population was to create a need for a new facility. In 1918 a new High School was opened on Franklin Road. The old High School was renamed Wilson and used to hold the overflow of students from Grant. In 1946 the school was demolished due to the financial burden and declining enrollment.

The new High School was a million dollar facility on an eighteen acre site. It consisted of four buildings, a main building, mens building, womens building, and a heating plant. The main building held the library, auditorium, gymnasium, and academic classrooms.

In the mens building were shops and laboratories for the study of electricity, machine shop, foundry, forge, pipe fitting and plumbing, carpentry, pattern making, sheet metal work, printing, drafting and photography. (7) This was the beginning of the excellent vocational program still in existence at Lakewood High today.

The Womens Reforms of the Progressive Era had not reached Lakewood in 1918. The womens building was where the girls learned the skills of sewing, millinery, applied art, pottery, cooking, botany, philosophy, and hygiene. "What is better education for a girl than to learn everything she ought to know about her home." (8) The cooking laboratory students ran the cafeteria, giving them valuable experience and, "assuring everybody the best of things to eat." (9)

Work did not stop there however. In 1928 a swimming pool was added and named in honor of Claude P. Briggs. Mr. Briggs was the principal who had worked for the pool, but died before it was completed.

In 1941 the present stadium was built and in 1949 lights were installed. New corridors between the buildings were built in 1950. In 1953 the East gym and L-Room were built. In 1970-71 a new academic wing, learning resource center, girl's gym and vocational arts building were built. These new additions cost many times more than the original building. But the cost was justified by making the High School the modern educational facility it is.

While the high school itself was shifting locations the number of elementary schools was multiplying and many renovations were made. These schools were named in honor of Ohio presidents, and other famous Americans.

The old one room brick East School, now Garfield Elementary building, remained in those exact same dimensions of the original school until 1891 when it was partitioned into two rooms. On May 9, 1892 the board voted for the construction of a four room brick building on the same site. The residents of the area felt that this was a great waste of their tax money, for they could not see the use of such a structure. The people who had complained had to retract these complaints after a very short time, for on November 1, 1897, with the phenomenal growth of Lakewood continuing, the board voted that a two room frame relief building should be built. The growth continued and the buildings again became crowded. In 1901 a four room addition was added to the north side. Eight rooms were not enough and ten years later on January 21, the contract for an eight room addition on the east side was let. In 1916 the Baptist Church property to the west was purchased and today the gymnasium and assembly halls stand on that property. In 1915 the first classes for the handicapped and slow learners were started here. The slow learners activities, along with academics, were crafts such as basket and rug weaving. (10)

West School, now McKinley Elementary on West Clifton Boulevard, which had been built in 1872 had a history similar to the East School. The growing enrollment in the school called for the construction of a 24 x 28 frame structure in the back of the school in 1896. In 1899 a new four room brick building was erected with plans for four more rooms when the need arose. The need arose on August 31, 1905, but the Board decided that the new addition be one of six rooms instead of four. Another addition of eight rooms at the cost of $78,000 was opened in September, 1915. (11) The still steady population increase led to another four room addition in 1921 for $76,000. (12) In most recent years a new west wing has also been added containing a library, gymnasium, and auditorium and much needed space for modern educational techniques.

The residents of the "Carbon" district, so named because of its close proximity to the National Carbon Works, were the next to receive neighborhood education. On August 4, 1895 the board voted that a frame schoolhouse be built for no more than $5,000. (13) On May 6, 1896 the board paid $5,000 for the construction of a two room brick building which was increased in 1904 by two more rooms. (14)

As all of Lakewood began to fill up with homes, South School as it was called, and Harrison as it is now called, began to fill up with the neighborhood's students. It filled so rapidly that a four room addition was built in 1906. A two-room relief building was placed on recently purchased adjacent lots until August of 1916 when yet another addition of eight rooms was constructed. In 1921 another eight room addition was built with room for a combination auditorium and gymnasium, and Americanization classes, to facilitate the increasing immigrant population. In the summer of 1948 the original four rooms of the Dowd Street structure were torn down.

In 1904 the old Central School, the short lived first separate High School now housing the Board of Education on Warren Road, became an elementary school. Property along Victoria Avenue was purchased and a nine room addition was built there in 1906. (At about this same time an addition was made next door to the 1879 building. This was the "Manual Training" area at which boys would learn about the use of machines and newly developed techniques). In 1912 an addition of two rooms was added to Grant School. In November of 1966, a new Grant School was approved just across Victoria Avenue from the older Grant building. This modern structure was built after a planning committee had visited other modern school buildings and done other research in planning the building.

As people moved into different areas of Lakewood, new schools had to be constructed to accommodate the children. In the northwestern quarter of Lakewood, the eleven room Lincoln School on Clifton between Lakeland and Summit Avenues was built and eventually was increased to twenty-seven rooms by 1920.

In the Southeast two schools were erected. During 1907 the·four room brick Franklin was built on Franklin and Elbur and by 1921, it had been increased to 12 rooms. The second school was Roosevelt on Athens and Lincoln Avenues. An eight room brick school was built in 1922 as a result of a petition by local residents.

The increasingly populated southwest area of Lakewood also received its share of schools. Madison School, on Madison Avenue opposite Wagar Avenue, began in 1911 as an eleven room structure and was increased to nineteen rooms in 1916. Another southwest school is Hayes Elementary on Delaware and Woodward. This school was built, with much criticism because of its location in a small forest, as a twelve room structure in 1926, but was increased to meet the growing enrollment so that by 1948 it had 25 rooms.

The Northeast was the last area to receive a school. This school was the 1927, thirteen room Taft Elementary located on Lake and Whipoorwill Avenues. Its building relieved Emerson Junior High School of carrying any elementary classes.

Emerson, on Clifton and Jackson Avenue, was just one of three Junior High Schools, the other two being Emerson's look-a-like, Horace Mann on West Clifton Boulevard and Harding, at Hilliard and Woodward. The "Junior High School Plan" of 1917 was responsible for the building of these middle schools. It called for the changing of so-called 8-4 plan, that is eight years of elementary school and four years of high school to six years of elementary, three years of middle school in one of the four proposed Junior Highs (the need for a fourth building, to be built on a five acre lot across from Lakewood High school, named Washington Junior High never arose) and three years of high school. This plan was later changed to a "5-3-4" plan with the building of a new academic wing at the high school. Emerson and Horace Mann finally opened in 1922 and Harding followed three years later in 1925.

The growth of the Lakewood school system has paralleled the growth and prosperity of the community surrounding it. Through the years teaching methods and ideas have changed, but the basic goal of students, parents and administrators have remained the same. That goal is to obtain the finest, most efficient education possible.

NOTES

l Luella Sanborn Wise, "Public Schools," Chap. 13, Early Days of Lakewood (Lakewood, D.A.R. Lakewood Chapter, 1936), p. 98.

2 Margaret Manor Butler, The Lakewood Story (New York, Stratford House, 1949), p. 201.

3 Ibid., p. 199.

4 S. Dickey, Short History of Lakewood Public Schools. (Lakewood, Ohio), p. 1. Some things quoted from 1920 Annual Report.

5 Butler, op. cit., p. 203.

6 L. H. S., Student Council, Lakewood High School Handbook 1942, (Lakewood, Ohio, 1942), p. 7.

7 Lakewood Press. March 7, 1981, p.25.

8 Ibid., p. 25.

9 Ibid., p. 25.

10 Lynch, Charles P. Annual Report of the Superintendent and Clerk of the Lakewood Schools 1919-1920, Lakewood, Ohio, 1920.

11 Suburban News and Herald (Lakewood). June 17, 1936. No page number given.

12 Suburban News and Herald (Lakewood. June 17, 1936. No page.

13 Dickey, op. cit., p. 2

14 Dickey, op. cit., p. 2

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In preparing this research paper we came across many, many sources pertaining to our subject or other related subjects. These included old copies of the school newspaper, the High Times and the school yearbooks which are available in the high school library. (Original newspaper clippings and retyped copies are also available here though many contain no author, date, title or page.) Numerous pamphlets are available at both the public and high school libraries. The Lakewood Historical Society and the Board of Education, itself, have many old records, files, etc. on the history of the schools.

John Koprowski and David Powell, Advanced Placement American History students at Lakewood High School, under the direction of Stephen Bennett, teacher, wrote The History of the Lakewood Schools during the 1977-1978 school year. In 1979 Dr. William Vejdovec, Director of Instruction, edited the Koprowski/Powell history for use in the Social Studies curriculum.