As the number of one-room schoolhouses dwindles across the United States, North Ridgeville’s District 9 School on Jaycox Road remains a testament to 19th century education.
After hosting eight grades of students from 1856 to 1924, the old building was abandoned when a centralized town school was built. The John and Grace Sullivan family acquired the property and used it for farm storage until they donated it to the North Ridgeville Historical Society in 1989.
“The floor was sagging in the middle, about a foot and a half, there were a bunch of holes and the floors had been rotted out, the walls were all cracked and full of holes, the ceiling was just about gone,” says Jeff Sigsworth, the society’s president.
Validation of its authenticity after 15 years of restoration came from a former student, who visited in 2004. “The woman was 101 years old. She came right up the front steps, walked in, sat down in one of the school desks, she looked around and said, ‘Yep, still looks the same,’” recalls Sigsworth. “We were happy to hear that.”
Most of the woodwork is original, as is the school blackboard, above which hangs George Washington’s framed portrait. Purchased and donated antiques include 1800s-style bookshelves, 1920s world and U.S. maps and an original 48-star flag from 1912. Original science, geography and arithmetic primers rest upon cast-iron framed desks, and a centennial potbelly stove takes center stage.
The half-acre outdoor premise is lined by old wrought iron fence and complete with separate girl and boy’s outhouse. A horseshoe-shaped driveway, a bit too small for a modern-day bus, regularly welcomes classes of local school children who are intrigued by live history re-enactments.
“Our teacher always asks them at the end, ‘Now what things in this school are different than your school?’ Of course they have a lot of things to say,” Sigsworth says. “Then she asks, ‘What things are the same as your school?’ That’s always an interesting feature.”
Open to the public the last Sunday of every month, May through October, 5064 Jaycox Road, North Ridgeville, northridgevillehistoricalsociety.org/private/jaycoxschool.htm