When school district leaders built the new Westerville High School, they wanted it to make a statement about the town.

When school district leaders built the new Westerville High School, they wanted it to make a statement about the town.

They chose a prominent State Street corner and constructed a building they felt Westerville would be proud of.

"They wanted something that was very visible, and there's a lot of pride in Westerville High School and being right on that corner and visible to anyone who drove through town," said Beth Weinhardt, local history coordinator for the Westerville Public Library.

Ninety years later, the building, whose name has since changed to Hanby Elementary School, still serves students and is one of Westerville's most iconic buildings.

The school will celebrate its birthday from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 9, 90 years to the day from its dedication.

Otterbein theater students will roam the halls dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Hanby, then-and-now photos will be posted around the building to show how its rooms were used at different times, there will be birthday-themed crafts for kids, videos on Hanby's history and a timeline of the school's history on which former students can place their names.

Of course, there will be plenty of stories to share about the school's history, said Hanby Principal Jan Fedorenko.

"We had people contribute stories about when they were at Hanby, and our students are taking those stories and illustrating them to make a book that will be available for a donation," Fedorenko said.

Many of the stories paint a picture of what the school once looked like.

When it opened in 1923, it served all Westerville junior and high school students in grades 7 through 12, Weinhardt said, and it's amazing to hear how the building was used to prepare students for life after high school then.

On the top floor, the school had its own bank, where students were taught to open and manage their own accounts, Weinhardt said. On the bottom floor, rooms were dedicated to agriculture, sewing and mechanical drawing.

"It was the time where fewer students went on to higher education, so things like agriculture and banking were important," Weinhardt said. "Clearly, they were wanting to train students for career opportunities right after high school."

Fedorenko said she was surprised to learn that on the lower level, in an area that comprised what is now the staff room, there once was an auto shop where cars were brought directly into the building to work on.

The library and the cafeteria once were opened to create the school's theater.

So many Westerville residents have ties to the Hanby building, Weinhardt said, because the school has served so many functions for the district over the years.

After it became overcrowded and a new Westerville High School was constructed in the early 1960s on Otterbein Avenue -- the building that is now Westerville South High School -- the school became Hanby Junior High School, then Hanby Middle School, Weinhardt said. It's also served as administrative offices and as middle-school overflow space.

For that last 13 years, it has been used as part of the district's elementary magnet program.

"I think they've gotten their money's worth out of that building," Weinhardt said. "The citizens still have pride in it."

Many people still return to the school building and ask to tour it because of their ties, and the anniversary open house on Nov. 9 will help them do that in a big way, Weinhardt said.

"It's amazing how many people want to come back and see the building. It just has so many fond memories for so many people," Weinhardt said. "I think the open house will be wonderful because it will give the community and opportunity to see what was built 90 years ago and why people were proud of it."