Avondale School, 1891
What is a tower? What was its purpose?
Why were school buildings in the 19th century built of brick and with richly detailed windows and stone trimmings?
- Schools were the pride of their neighborhoods. Schools represented the highest hopes of a community for their children. When visitors came through a community, places of worship and schools were often the most beautiful buildings, and the community or city wanted to send the message that they prized their children and education very highly. The architecture of a school and the details (such as sayings carved above the doors and windows or in the auditorium of the school) were also another means of teaching. If a child went to an elementary or high school that looked like a college building, this was a reminder that education should be continued at a university. Words carved in stone were sometimes taken from some of Ohio’s most famous documents (like the Northwest Ordinance) or were chosen to emphasize important values (truth, knowledge, virtue). In Columbus, the size of schools, the use of good materials of strength and durability, and the added details all showed that going to school was the important first step to being an informed citizen. At the same time, in the 1880s and 1890s, new laws were passed by the state of Ohio to make it compulsory (meaning a person was ordered to) for children aged 8-14 to attend school.
What happened to Avondale and other West Side schools in the 1913 flood?
- Many schools on the West Side were lost or seriously damaged by the 1913 flood. Seven school buildings, including Avondale, were put out of use. Almost 100 people died in the flood in Columbus, including twenty-three students, five of whom were students at Avondale.
Why has Columbus City schools chosen to rehabilitate and expand many of its historic schools like Avondale?
- Columbus has many historic school buildings. The Columbus City Schools worked with the Ohio Historical Society and the Columbus Landmarks Foundation to preserve many of these buildings with money from the Ohio legislature. They chose to rehabilitate (“bring them back to new” and expand them) rather than demolish them. In many cases, this preserved the building, improved it, and saved taxpayers money. Avondale was one of ten historic elementary buildings built in the 19th century.