Thursday, October 2, 2014

One-Room School House - Chatfield Township - Crawford County

Earlier this summer while headed up north to a festival I spotted a lone brick building sitting off in a bean field by itself.  Although it was a good ways off the three large windows on the side were the recognizable feature that gave away this building's original purpose.  I made a quick mental note of the location and the RoadQueen and I planned a motorcycle ride recently to return to the area and get a closer look at the latest schoolhouse find.

As with many old schoolhouses built in the late 19th century an agreement was struck between the local government and the landholder to allow a small plot to be set aside for the construction of the school.  Once the school systems were consolidated the original smaller schoolhouses reverted back to the original property owner to do with what he wished.

As we walked around and surveyed the state of the building we noted a nearby farm just to the south.  Barns and the farmhouse are just visible in the background of the picture above.

Eventually we may have drawn the attention of the farmer because soon we noticed a pickup truck cruising up the lane to where we had left our motorbikes.  When he turned onto the road and started coming our way we walked out to meet the driver.  We introduced ourselves and expressed our interest in the old schoolhouse.  This was the fourth generation landowner of the nearby farm and by default the schoolhouse.  

He seemed pleased to find that we cared enough to stop and look so he shared a cool story with us.  His Grandfather actually went to school in the building when he was a boy! Needless to say the RoadQueen and I were impressed.  The farmer also said that next spring they planned to move the dirt pile out of the way of the front entrance and do some basic cleaning up and maintenance to the structure.  He invited us back when they have it open for look inside.  We told him we would definitely take up his offer. 

Here's a good shot of the original soffit. All solid wood; there was no such thing as exterior grade plywood in those days.

The schoolhouse is in pretty good shape thanks to the sturdy standing seam metal roof.  The only trouble spots I could find was above the front door where the span proved too great allowing the unsupported masonry to sag and the mortar to develop cracks.

On our way up to the site we took the State highway but planned to circle around using back roads on our way back.  I've found that in less populated rural areas where there's one schoolhouse chances are another one might be nearby.

Sure enough four miles to the south we spotted another schoolhouse on a corner of two country roads.  Right away I saw a stone lintel above the upper window.  Even from a distance I could see the stone was carved.  Great! I thought it's always nice to find an intact date plaque for these old buildings.

The offset door is something I often see on these old schoolhouses. Originally the front entrance was only a man door.  Later someone enlarged the opening by knocking out bricks on only one side and leaving the left side of the jamb intact.

Looks like an old rain gutter bracket. On the other side of this wall would have been the chalkboard.

Walking around the site was easy thanks to the well kept lawn surrounding the building.  We also noticed the owners had recently patched up some problem areas in the masonry.

It was nice to add a couple new schoolhouses to my little collection and especially heartening to see conservation work being done to preserve these unique pieces of American history.

Check out other 19th century Ohio schoolhouses by clicking the label below.


  1. Love this thing you have for these shoollhouses! I get a vicarious kick out of these pics and stories, thanks!

    1. Thanks Pat! Yeah the hunt for old schoolhouses houses is one of the coolest activities that's spawned from my blogging. I get kind of obsessive about things and I've been thinking of mapping out the surrounding area grid style to flush out any more schoolhouses that are still existing. It would be quite an undertaking but I can't think of a better way to kill time on two wheels!