School is open the last Sunday of every month
during the summer, weather permitting. 2-5 pm
NORTH RIDGEVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY BRINGS
THE 1859 SNOW ROAD SCHOOL BACK TO LIFE
by Jeff Sigsworth, NRHS President
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Members of the North Ridgeville Historical Society have been quietly busy (for
the last 14 or 15 years) renovating an 1859 white frame one-room schoolhouse
on Jaycox Road, located just south of Mills Road, which follows along the Avon-North
In fact, the school once known as the Snow Road School (after
the former name of Jaycox Road) was for 65
years Ridgeville Township Joint Sub-District No. 9 school; serving
a district shared with Avon Township.
Hundreds of area children (in grades 1
through 8) attended the District No. 9
school from 1859 to 1924 along with other children who attended the rest of
the 10 district schools (some with one room, and others with two) that served
Ridgeville Twp. from the mid-1800's through the 1920's. Five of these schools
are still standing, but the other four are now private homes. The Snow Road/Jaycox
Road school was moved from the east side of the street to the west side (and
probably remodeled) in about 1880.
After the 1923-24 school year, all of these
district schools were abandoned,
and students were transferred to the two new centralized schools the
Ridgeville High School building (serving all 12 grades by 1926, and later known
as the Junior High and Middle School), and the Fields Elementary School on Root
Road at Fields Corners (closed for about 15 years, in about 1935-50; and
later renamed Fields-Sweet Elementary School, and now no longer used for public
school purposes). Both of these buildings (the High School and Fields Elementary)
were later expanded and/or remodeled extensively.
Following the 1924 abandonment,
the Jaycox Road school (District No. 9) became
the property of the John & Grace Sullivan family, owners of an adjacent farm.
In about 1985, the Sullivan family first approached the Historical Society about
the possibility of purchasing the school; but the Society wasn't in a financial
position to do so. Then, in 1988, the living heirs of the Sullivans offered to
donate the District No. 9 schoolhouse (long used as a farm storage building)
and its property to the North Ridgeville Historical Society. The gift was gratefully
accepted, and plans were made immediately to renovate the historic building for
future tour & display purposes.
After first trapping & removing a variety of raccoons, skunks, and smaller rodents
(thanks to Society member Lois Sullivan), and a wall full of angry bees (thanks
to Harry Painter), there was much structural work to be done.
In the summer of
1993, Lorain County Historical Society member and former Director Tom Stetak
of LaGrange (known as Mr. Restoration) was hired, over a period of several
years, to straighten and re-position the large sandstone foundation blocks and
the large stone front steps, to brace up and level the sagging floor, install
an external drainage system & replica replacement windows, and other necessary
improvements. Tom's work was much appreciated.
Eventually, the nearly-collapsed
old ceiling was removed & replaced; the roof was re-shingled; the original wainscoting
was repaired, replaced where
necessary, and stained & varnished; the floor
boards were repaired & replaced,
and stained; the plaster walls were patched and painted (along with the new ceiling);
the front door vestibule, complete with most of its original doors,
woodwork & hardware, was reconstructed; the original painted blackboard was restored;
and the pot-bellied stove was renovated and put in place (along with new stovepipe).
Extensive poison ivy, several unneeded trees, and much brush & undergrowth were
gradually removed; the school grounds were graded, and the beginnings of a driveway
and parking lot were installed. A long, winding drainage ditch through the back
of the property, and part of the deep culvert along Jaycox Road (in front of
the school) were eventually tiled and filled in, for safety purposes.
fortunate, early on, to be able to meet and talk with the last teacher at the
school (1923-24), the late Maynard Huene, as well as several former students
who had attended the school they all have given us inssight into how the school
originally looked and operated. Old school
desks from various periods have been
acquired whenever possible (though prices have gone increasingly higher); we
now have over 30 students desks, one teacher's desk, the original blackboard,
and many authentic school books on display.
Local civic groups, such as the N.R.
Lions Club (whose volunteers gave the school its first coat of paint in about
65 years), the City & Mayor of North Ridgeville, and quite a few local commercial
businesses (plus numerous individual volunteers) all have contributed labor,
equipment, and/or materials toward the renovation of the District No. 9 school.
Organizations like the Lions Club, the N.R.
Corn Festival Committee, and many
individuals, have contributed monetarily for the project. The largest single
financial contribution came from sales of the book, The
Elm Tree Talks (a narrative history of North Ridgeville), written by the
late Miss Frances Smith, past president of the Historical Society. Her donation
Additional funding has come from sales of our
Society's North Ridgeville historical calendars, and proceeds from our annual
swiss steak dinners held at the First Congregational (UCC) Church.
thank you must be given to the Society's Building Committee chairmen during
the last 15 years: the late Harry Painter, John Mahl, and especially Russell
Sigsworth (currently the Society's vice president) who single-handedly coordinated
volunteers, paid workers & professionals, and the overall renovation timetable
during the last seven or eight years and to many volunteer workers who have
assisted with the project. The late Mr.
Wilbur Grentzer did the lion's share of renovation of the interior and its
furnishings in 1999-2001.
In the spring of 2001 our local Ohio Representative,
[the late] Jeff Manning, obtained a very substantial grant ($150,000) from the
State Budget for the
North Ridgeville Historical Society and its projects especially the Jaycox/Snow
Road school. We greatly appreciate his efforts; this additional funding will
let us add many important finishing touches to the schoolhouse building,
parking lot, and property. The weekend of July 7-8, 2001, saw the first public
open houses at
the building; displaying for the first time all of the school's renovations.
In 2002, a storage building was constructed on the north end of the property;
and in 2003 a standing-seam steel roof was added, and the driveway
Our Snow Road School now joins several other existing renovated Lorain
County schoolhouses, in places like Belden, Oberlin, Amherst, and Brownhelm.
Come to our monthly Open Houses at the Jaycox Road District No. 9 School (the
last Sunday of each month, May-October, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.), and see how
a 19th-century school looked. Keep watching for future developments!