Friday, February 24, 2012

Reminders of the Past: The Fox Road Schoolhouse, Huron Township, Ohio

One-room schoolhouses dot the landscape of Ohio and provide a reminder of what life was like for the children of rural areas, including Huron Township, at the beginning of the 20th century. Sadly, only two of the more than eight, one-room schoolhouses that once stood in Huron Township remain.

As early as 1841, a schoolhouse stood on Fox Road just west of Camp Road in Huron Township. In September of 1841, Squire Barrett sold a small plot of land in the north part of Lot 9, Section 3 to Huron Township for school purposes. As the population of Huron Township grew, so did the number of children attending the rural schools. In the early 1860s, there was an average of 25 students attending the school on Fox Road, known as the Sub-district No. 8 School. Hence, a new and improved schoolhouse was needed to accommodate the growing number of students.

In 1868, the director of the Sub-district No. 8 School, George W. Harris, suggested that a new schoolhouse be constructed in his district just to the west of the original schoolhouse. Hence, in May of 1868, the Board of Education of Huron Township resolved that a tax would be levied on all of the property of Sub-district No. 8 in the amount of $500, and a tax would be levied on all the taxable property of the Township (village exempt) in the amount of $700 for the purpose of purchasing a lot, building a 24’ x 30’ brick schoolhouse, digging a well, and fencing the ground in Sub-district No. 8. By April of 1869, the new schoolhouse was well underway. Unfortunately, the $1,200 in taxes that was collected from the residents of Huron Township was not enough to complete the new schoolhouse. Therefore, the Board of Education levied another $900 tax. The new schoolhouse was likely ready for use by the fall of 1869.

In 1868, a vote was put to the people of Huron Township and Huron Village to decide whether or not to build a central high school. The voters in the township voted against the measure; however, the people of the village voted in favor of it. Though defeated in 1868, efforts to centralize the schools continued nonetheless. In 1886, Huron built a large school in the village on the corner of Williams and Shirley streets. The younger grades were composed primarily of students residing in the village, but high school students came from all over the township.

In the early 1900s, August Scheid was appointed director of the school in Sub-district No. 8. Mr. Scheid, who had several children in the district, was a strong proponent of centralized schools. In 1911, Mr. Scheid personally provided the means for children to be brought into the village for school by purchasing a bus to transport students from Sub-District No. 8 into Huron each day. Mrs. Scheid designed the bus, and it was manufactured in Sandusky. Further, the Scheid’s son, Lyndon, who was to attend Huron High School, would be the bus driver. Hence, the schoolhouse in Sub-district No. 8 was no longer in use after September of 1911. A few of the other one-room schoolhouses survived the centralization effort for a short time, but all eventually succumbed.

From 1911 until 1941, the schoolhouse in Sub-district No. 8 sat vacant, but was still under the ownership of the Huron Township Board of Education. During the 1930s, the owner of the land upon which the schoolhouse sat allowed their pigs to use the structure for shelter. The once lovely schoolhouse was now in shambles. In March of 1941, Thurman, Katherine, and Emory Fox purchased 196 acres of land, including Lot 9, from the People’s Loan and Savings Company. The People’s Loan and Savings Company had recovered the property in 1931 in a suit against August Scheid who owed them $47,535. The Fox family likely challenged the Board of Education of Huron Township for ownership of ‘the schoolhouse lot’ since the schoolhouse was obviously not in use as a school, and, therefore, the land upon which the schoolhouse sat was supposed to revert back to the land owner. In June of 1941, ‘the school house lot’, containing 0.65 acres, was subsequently sold to Dennis C. Fox. By the time Dennis Fox came into possession of the schoolhouse, all of the windows and doors were gone. Yet, Mr. Fox had a vision for the old schoolhouse which included rehabilitating it and making it his home. Since that time, many others have made improvements to the schoolhouse and have called it home, but yet have lovingly respected the house’s unique past.

NOTE: Historical Research Partners was hired in 2009 to research the history of this great schoolhouse, now a home.

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