Red School House Construction

Poland’s Little Red Schoolhouse in 2006

Part of Poland’s heritage and history is found in this little one-room schoolhouse built in 1858 at the intersection of State Route 224 and Struthers Road and located about 2 miles east of Poland Village. Although the building has not been used as a school since 1915 the old schoolhouse structure has an interesting past. As settlers moved into Township 1, Range 1 in the Western Reserve there became a need for a school. A small log structure was built in 1805 in the exact center of the township. This log cabin then gave way in the 1820’s to a more substantial clapboard frame “subscription” schoolhouse. Subscription schools were where students paid a fee or subscription to attend. Since cash was scarce in those early pioneer days, parents would pay in services or goods such as providing wood for the schoolhouse stove or food for the teacher.
By 1858 a township board of education was formed and this board bought the schoolhouse and an acre and a half of property for $80 from Wright and Elveria Adair. Here a permanent redbrick schoolhouse was built with each brick carefully laid. Brick pilasters with wooden cornices squared and strengthened the corners up to a wide fascia trim boards. Decorative trim followed the eaves and on the steep pitched roof was placed a belfry. A bell called students to classes for the next 57 years.
The McGuffey Readers were an integral part of the lessons taught in this red schoolhouse, but by 1915 times had changed and one room schoolhouses were being closed throughout Ohio as part of a centralization program. Lunch pails and riding to school on horse back were vanishing signs of the times.
During the intervening years from 1915 through 1979, Poland’s little schoolhouse served a variety of functions from township storage, to a church, to a public meeting hall, and to a women’s sewing circle center to help the war effort in WWII. The fate of the little red schoolhouse hung in the balance. The formation of the Poland Township Historical Society and the efforts of many concerned citizens came to the rescue. Lease arrangements were made with the Poland School Board and a Federal grant was received for the restoration of the building. Architectural plans were approved to add a kitchen and indoor plumbing to this one-room schoolhouse. Construction was completed and on September 20, 1987 the restored little red schoolhouse was dedicated to the community.
Today this red-brick schoolhouse now serves as a museum containing numerous items reflecting Poland’s past 200 years. The Poland Township Historical Society is working hard to raise money to improve this museum which displays records and photographs of people, places and events that occurred here many years ago.

Editor’s Note: Robert Zorn wrote much of this article for the Poland Firemen’s 1987 Telephone Directory.