by LCVB staff member Dan Maxson

The Legacy of One-Room Schools

Dotting the back county roads, the casual traveler often passes by abandoned or second-third use repurposed remnants of a past era. These aging buildings may bring back remembered images, be seen as merely crumbling structures or reconnect you with a by-gone county era. Such is the case with three unique buildings of Americana found in our Lake County communities.

One – room schoolhouses are a part of American history dating back nearly 350 years. First suggested in 1647 (Massachusetts), the Federal Land Act of 1785 and the Section 16 Act set up support of schools as an offshoot of The Northwest Ordinances. An 1802 draft of Ohio’s constitution made reference to schools. Even Thomas Jefferson championed free public education.

Prior to 1820 exisitng schools were mostly private by design. The cost of a term, usually three dollars was a luxury well beyond the reach of most citizens. Yet it is interesting to note that Ohio’s population in 1803 was nearly 60,000- Ohio being one of the first states developed from the Northwest Territory era. This led to an 1825 law where free education became the rule. Public School was now in session in the soon to be Lake County. Early pioneer schools sprang up. These schools were of a crude log design and often a 30’x50’ size at best. An 1840 census indicated 407,000 children ages 6-15 attended schools. Usually townships were divided into 6 or 7 sections hence the need for 6 to 7 schools. School terms ran May thru September and November thru April. Within a few years, the first pioneer schools were replaced by buildings now made of stone. The Old Stone Schoolhouse (1840) on Ravenna Road was Concord’s third school but the first quarried stone structure in the county. By the late 1900’s schools made of red-clay brick followed. The Red Schoolhouse in Willoughby and School #2 in Kirtland Township are examples of that era of construction. Oneroom schools remained in the forefront of early public school education until approximately 1920. At that time urban schools challenged these mostly rural institutions. Limited curriculum, facility size and rising standards for teacher certification became issues that only larger urbanbased districts could combat. Concord Township’s nine one-room schools were shuttered by 1924 and a new one building district school opened in 1925 to better serve all students. A new era in education was at hand.

Lake County’s One Room Schoolhouses Still Standing –Key Facts

Old Stone Schoolhouse –
Built in 1840, open from 1841-1923, one of nine in its hey-day. Located on Ravenna Road in
Concord Township, it is a township museum maintained by the local historic society and open to
the public.

Children’s Schoolhouse – Lake Metroparks
Originally known as Riverside School #2, located on Baldwin Road in Kirtland Township, opened
in 1894. Donated in 1988 by the Anthony S. Ocepala Family to Lake Metroparks. It is open to
the public for educational programs only.

Little Red Schoolhouse-
Currenly located at 5040 Shankland Road in Willoughby, it was built in 1901 and situated thru
1923 on the current YMCA site. Last used in the 1940s, it is now a three building complex
maintained by the local historical society. It was moved to its current location in 1975.

About Dan Maxson

Dan is the President of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society. He is also the local expert on Lake County lore and history.

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