Rocky Fork Enterprise

Planners OK restoration of one-room schoolhouse

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A living museum in the form of a one-room schoolhouse is one step closer to becoming a reality in Gahanna.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on June 26 approved a site plan, landscaping, building design and signage for a late 1860s school building to be rebuilt at 515 Havens Corners Road, near the playground at Lincoln Elementary School.

The old schoolhouse, also known as Jefferson Township No. 2 School, was in front of the YMCA on U.S. Route 62 and had been converted into a garage.

Tom Gregory, a speech and television-production teacher at Gahanna Lincoln High School, led the effort to save the building when it was slated to be demolished a year ago. The school was on what was known as the Mechwart Farm, and various Gahanna families from local farms had sent their children to the school.

About $6,200 in donations was collected for the one-room school that will be used as a teaching tool for various classes in the Gahanna-Jefferson school district, including U.S. history, American literature, local government, global studies and drama.

"Bricks were taken down brick by brick, and they're stored at Middle School South," said Jan Elzey, the applicant at the Planning Commission. "We thought we would build (at South) originally, but the schools feel this is a better site. We'd use the restrooms at the football field."

When the school is rebuilt, planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said, it will look similar to Johnstown's Cornell one-room school that has window shutters and a bell tower on top.

She said a split-rail fence would be installed around the building. Landscaping will be added, as well as a paver path with stone entry.

Once reassembled, it will be open at specific times for students and the public to visit.

Elzey said 22 third-grade classes in Gahanna would spend a day there.

"We were hopeful to get it constructed before school starts," he said. "That won't happen, but major construction could be completed before school starts."

He said all of the original windows have been rebuilt, as well as a bell tower.

"It will have a pot-bellied stove and hickory flooring, and the lighting will be old-school fixtures that hang from the ceiling," Elzey said.

He said 60 percent of the brick and 80 percent of slate would be original.

Elzey said the existing chain-link fence at the site would be removed, and a wooden fence would be built around it.

"We want to separate this from the playground area," he said. "There will be some landscaping. I envision hollyhocks and the types of flowers common in the old days."

Commission member Dave Andrews said it's a great idea.

"I think it will be beautiful," he said.

"It's tremendous what everyone is accomplishing," said Jennifer Price, commission member. "Tom Gregory needs to be commended. It was his vision."

In other Planning Commission action June 26, a certificate of appropriateness was approved for a fence for an outdoor patio area at the Alumni Club Bar & Grille, 395 Stoneridge Lane.

A certificate of appropriateness also was approved for building design to add two exterior sunrooms to the north end of the existing Northeast School, 500 N. Hamilton Road.

Gard said the sunrooms would be an expansion for the Young Adult Services program, sponsored by Goodwill.

"It will be set up like a home with a kitchen, living room, restroom, like an apartment," Gard said. "They want two sunrooms. They would be mirror images on each side. They will have their own entry point. Eventually, there will be a canopy to keep participants dry as they're dropped off."

The commission postponed an application for Family Dollar Stores Inc. until July 17. Family Dollar has proposed renovation of an existing building at 459 Agler Road.

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