BELMONT — This past year, citizens of the Village of Belmont were asked to share what they thought the town should do with the vacant, deteriorated school building. The final verdict was to raze the former school.
Like many buildings of its time, the Belmont structure contains an ample supply of asbestos. The cost to safely remove the substance can be a budget breaker for a town of 450 residents.
The Belmont School was first erected for as the town’s high school. When the Union Local High School opened for the 1959-1960 term, the school continued to serve as an elementary school. That, too, ended when the new, consolidated Union Local elementary and middle school campuses opened in the fall of 1998.
At that time, Belmont assumed ownership of the school and adjacent gymnasium. For several years a Christian school rented the school before relocating to East Richland. Since that time, the town’s focus has centered on maintaining the gym which serves as a community center.
While days are numbered for the former Belmont School, what has become of other community schools that have outlived their intended use – public schools during the past half century of declining population, smaller families, and consolidation?
These schools were once the very heart and soul of their respective communities. Today, some continue to serve in different public roles, while others are sadly, abandoned, or gone.
A recently Facebook post on community, noted, "the school was a bond of the town. So many of these small communities shaped a generation, one filled with respect, pride and hope for a better tomorrow. This was a lifetime ago, but only a memory away."
A handy website that answers many of these questions is www.oldohioschools.com. From this site and our own history sleuthing, the final disposition of area community schools follows:
Armstrong Mills (Washington Twp.) – The consolidated elementary school along SR 148 was closed and students transferred to Beallsville. Years before, the township school district merged with the Switzerland of Ohio School District. Today, it serves as the township office and garage.
Baileys Mills – The Baileys Mills one room school was one of the remaining four open when the Warren Twp. system merged with Barnesville in 1958. The building was purchased by Clem and Sophia Reischman and converted into a residence.
Barnesville – The large Union School, erected in 1880, was torn down to make way for the new elementary school in 1940. The c.1905 high school was torn down in 1979 to make way for a new elementary school. The Junior High school and gym, erected in 1925, was torn down when the new middle school was erected in 2001 on the east side of town.
Batesville (Beaver Township) – The high school, erected in 1925 and located at the center of town, included an adjoining gymnasium that was added in the 1950s. The elementary school was located on SR 147 on the east side of town, while the high school stood vacant following the consolidation of a new high school at Sarahsville in 1963. An arsonist torched the elementary school in 1973. The community refurbished the old high school. When Noble Local constructed a consolidated elementary/middle school, the school closed in 1983. Abandoned, it was eventually demolished.
Beallsville – The original two-story brick building in the center of town was torn down in 1966 and Decker’s Market, now Convenient Food Mart, occupies the site. At the west end of town, a new high school was erected in 1928, with a large addition in 1956, then the Switzerland of Ohio School District, when the elementary moved into the new building. With the erection of a new school on SR 556 in 2011, this school closed. Today, it is listed for sale for $40,000.
Belmont – Belmont’s original school building was located near the town’s cemetery. It was erected in 1875. The current building was erected as a high school in 1915, with an addition in 1938 when the old school older c. 1875 school was closed. This school closed as an elementary in 1998. The village assumed ownership of the campus leasing the school for several years to a private Christian school. At present, the village is seeking assistance from the county land bank to remove asbestos plaster and demolish the classroom buildings. The gymnasium remains in use as a community center and town hall.
Bethesda – The old school located on N. Main Street was built in 1880. A frame gymnasium was added at the rear of the lot. This school was demolished in 1965 after it was purchased by Blaney Lumber. The high school off Maple Avenue was erected in 1938. With the consolidation of Union Local High School in 1959, the N. Main elementary was closed and students transferred to the former high school. The elementary school closed in 1998 when Union Local Elementary opened. The school was sold and rented for offices and police academy classes for several years.
Boston (Atlas) – Constructed south of the village in 1881, the two-story frame building. In 1927, second story was removed making it a one-room school. The school merged with Temperanceville in 1947 at this location. The school closed and students transferred to new Somerton Elementary (former high school) in 1952.
Calais (Seneca Twp.) – The Seneca Township High School was built in 1932. The school closed in 1962 when the Skyvue High School was formed with the consolidation of five community high schools.
Centerville (Smith Twp.) – Constructed in 1922-1923, the former township high school and later, elementary school closed in 1998 when Union Local Elementary opened. Today, it serves as the Smith Township Senior Center.
Hendrysburg – The current building was erected in 1925 on the site of the town’s former multi-room brick school building. In 1948, the school was moved to its current location to make way for the Route 40 bypass of the community – today’s SR 800. In 1969, the school was closed by the Barnesville School District and transferred to Kirkwood Township Trustees.
Holloway – After the Holloway elementary school was closed and students transferred to Flushing, the building was purchased and used by Cravat Coal Company for the firm’s offices. A massive fire in February 1982 destroyed the building. The complex was built in three sections in 1911, 1916 and 1933.
Fairview – The village elementary school, located two lots west of the Methodist Church on Oxford Street. In 1924, a consolidated township school was located on US 40 between Fairview and Middlebourne. By 1960, the Guernsey County School yearbook reveals, the school was associated with the Old Washington/Wills Township District housing grades 1-6. The school was closed and demolished during the construction of I-70.
Flushing – Demolition of the school complex occurred this summer, 2018. A Dollar General Store was recently erected on the site. The complex consisted of the high school building erected in 1904 with an elementary school erected in two sections, 1922 and 1928. A separate gymnasium stood on the campus. Flushing remained a separate school district with its own high school for about a decade after Union Local was formed. The elementary school closed in 1998 when Union Local Elementary opened.
Hunter – The one room frame school stood south of the village. After its closing, it was used to house a livestock. It disappeared in the 1980s.
Jerusalem – The multi-room, frame School, located on Church Street/Moore Ridge Road, was erected in 1920. The school closed and students transferred to Beallsville in 1958 when the Switzerland of Ohio School District was formed. The town assumed ownership of the building. It is used for village office’s and also contains a community meeting room.
Lafferty – The community school was erected in two sections in 1921 and 1927. A separate gymnasium was added in 1938-39. After Union Local High School opened, the complex was sold to the Diocese of Steubenville. Seaton Central parochial school opened in 1961 with early graduating classes as large as 35 students. Students primarily came from the nearby Catholic congregations in Flushing, Barnesville, Fairpoint and St. Clairsville. Economics and declining enrollment forced the school to close in 1971. The gymnasium was used as a social hall for several more years before the buildings were razed.
Malaga – When the Malaga school was closed in 1957, students were transferred to Jerusalem. The following year the Malaga Twp. district merged with Beallsville. The school was razed and eventually replaced by a residence.
Morristown (Union Township) – The town’s school was located on Church Street among the churches in the village. The large brick, multi-room building was erected in 1868. In 1938, the current school was constructed south of Main Street on SR 26. When the consolidated elementary school opened in in 1968, it was used for administrative offices of the district. Vacant today, the school is vacant and for sale.
Mount Olivet – Dating to the 1870s, the brick two-room, two-story school was used through the 1950s. In 1949, a large boulder was dedicated here in honor of Ohio’s first native born governor Wilson Shannon.’ Governor Lausche delivered the main address. By the late 1970s it used for farm storage and a decade later was gone.
New Castle – A one-room frame school stood north of the village’s Methodist Church. After the township school district closed, the school was sold and converted into a residence. The structure was destroyed by fire several years ago.
Quaker City – The town’s large brick school complete with a bell tower, was erected in 1877. It was razed for a new school building in 1927. When the new East Guernsey School District elementary/middle school was opened in Old Washington, the building was transferred to the village. The town demolished the structure which today is green space that includes the former school’s playground. The last high school class to graduate was in 1964 when the school consolidated with Old Washington to form Zane Trace High School.
Salesville – The two brick school buildings, including a gymnasium, were closed many years ago with students transferred to Quaker City. They are not listed as open in the 1960 Guernsey County school yearbook. Google Earth suggests both buildings, used today as storage, remain standing.
Sewellsville – The two-story, brick building was erected about 1875. Students were transferred to Hendrysburg when the school was closed by the state in 1948 for low enrollment. Eleven students attended the last year. Today, it is abandoned or used for storage.
Somerton (Somerset Twp.) – A school was located on the Methodist Church lot until 1872 when a two-room school was erected up the hill. In 1890 that building was sold to the new church of Christ congregation and the current frame school erected. A three-room rear addition in 1905 allowed the building to serve as elementary and high school.
In 1940, a new high school opened on Johnson Ridge. The village school was used as an elementary until 1952. The building later served as a farm feed supply store.
The Johnson Ridge high school closed in 1951. It served as Somerton Elementary from 1952 to 1970 when students were transferred to Barnesville. The school was sold and used as a service station supply warehouse.
Stumptown – This country brick school, erected in 1880, was one of the last open in the township, closing in 1957 when students transferred to Somerton. The building was sold and used for a summer residence.
Tacoma – The one-room school, Warren Twp. #2, was one of the last to close when the Warren Township system merged with Barnesville. It was located south of the railroad tracks near the French Cemetery.
Temperanceville – A two-room frame school was erected in town about 1880. Ten years later, the new Catholic Church was erected nearby. In 1947, the Somerset Twp. Board of Education voted to close Boston and move students to Temperanceville, a better structure. In the end, Temperanceville was closed and remaining students transferred to Boston. Five years later, all students in the public system were educated at the consolidated elementary school on Johnson Ridge.
Part of the decline was the opening of St. Mary’s Parochial Elementary in 1947. In 1952, the church unsuccessfully attempted to place a basement under of the school. Instead, the current St. Mary’s Hall was built as a school. The church school closed in 1957.