Poland Historical Society to host open-house at Little Red Schoolhouse
Poland landmark is at center of community’s history
By Jordyn Grzelewski
The stretch of road leading to one of Poland’s oldest structures, flanked by sprawling fields and sparsely dotted with businesses and homes, used to be the central hub of life in the township.
Today, the snug brick building topped with a bell – known as the “Little Red Schoolhouse” – is at the center of the community’s history.
“It connects people to the past,” said David Smith, secretary of the Poland Historical Society. The organization, housed at the school building, maintains a museum at the 4515 Center Road location.
“It lets them know about the history, and keeps it alive,” he said.
Community members have a chance to explore that history from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday and again at the same time Aug. 9 during open houses.
PHS members also will lead a tour of historic Riverside Cemetery after Sunday’s open house. This year marks the cemetery’s 150th anniversary.
Those who visit the schoolhouse this weekend might feel as if they’re stepping into a different era, when the building was known as Poland Center
The spacious room that comprises most of the building is complete with a potbelly stove, desks and artifacts dating back to the schoolhouse’s operations that lasted until 1915.
The building ceased to function as a school at that time, when county school systems formed. From then on, the building was used in a variety of functions, including as a church.
Laurie Fox, vice president of the historical society, says her mother- and father-in-law married there in the 1940s.
The historical society took over the building in 1981, when it signed a 99-year lease agreement with the board of education. It’s rumored that the schoolhouse is the only one left in the state that still is owned by a school district.
The schoolhouse, however, is not just a monument to the school: it’s a collection of Poland’s complete history, which Smith said is integral to the community’s identity.
“Poland doesn’t have a lot of industry, or retail, so history is kind of what we have to offer,” he said.
Looking through the exhibits featured there, one can look at campaign materials for President William McKinley, old photographs of buildings in Poland that no longer exist, school photographs, family directories, scrapbooks, textbooks and yearbooks dating back to the high school’s first publication of the “Pioneer” in 1930.
The schoolhouse soon will have a new addition: an Ohio Historical Marker, the cost for which the PHS is accepting donations. The group also is raising funds to replace windows at the schoolhouse.
For information, contact the group at email@example.com or connect with them on Facebook at the “Poland Ohio Historical Society” page.