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A one-room schoolhouse has emerged from the weeds near the corner of New Milford and Waterloo roads in Randolph Township.
The Randolph Historical Society hopes to revive the brick schoolhouse and turn it into a museum for the society and to show what education was like in the "good old days."
"Right now we're trying to get more information on the red schoolhouse," said Carol Mangold, president of the historical society. Records so far have been scarce. They believe it was built in about 1900 to replace a log structure that burned. It was used as a school until the original Randolph Elementary School was built in the 1930s and as a family home until 2007.
"There were 14 one-room schoolhouses in Randolph," said Phil Geiger, who is project supervisor for the school restoration. "There are six remaining, all with people living in them, most with additions."
But the one at Waterloo and New Milford is the only brick schoolhouse in the township "that we know of," he said. The rest were wooden.
Geiger, his father and friends spent most of a week freeing the building and the half-acre lot it sits on from several years of neglect. They removed weeds, poison ivy and debris from the lot and inside the building -- enough to fill a 10-yard container.
The previous owners gave the property to the historical society, but it took two years to clear up the title, said Glenna Moyers.
Moyers has a deep affection for the school. "I went to a one-room school until the sixth grade in West Virginia. It meant a lot to me to get (the title) done." She said children benefited from having older and younger students in the same class.
Inside, the 26-by-24 foot building was divided into a kitchen, living area and bedroom. Two late additions -- a bathroom and a storage area -- will be demolished. Geiger said he's is ready to take out the partition walls and start repairs to the original horsehair-and-plaster walls and ceilings. He said he's not sure if much of the old ceiling can be saved, but he's sure he can replicate the finish. He's also hoping to find some vintage windows to replace the modern ones in the building. And they are looking at the best affordable method to strip the red paint from the brick exterior to bring the schoolhouse back to its original look.
Cleaning up netted a few surprises. Geiger discovered some of the original chalkboard still intact behind one more recent wall.
"There were five different layers of wallpaper on the chalkboard and then they drywalled over that," he said. Geiger said the floor system is unique: it isn't built into the brick walls but sits independently inside the cut sandstone foundation.
There's a crawlspace/basement under the building and the brickwork and foundation looks to be in pretty good shape for something that's more than a century old.
Right now, the historical society is looking for help to move along the project. Mangold said they need donations of money and information. Donations may be sent to the Randolph Historical Society, P.O. Box 254, Randolph OH 44265.
Mangold will talk about their progress at the school when the society meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Randolph Town Hall, 1639 S.R. 44. Wayne Enders, president of the Portage County Historical Society, will present the evening's program.
Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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