Dover's first public high school is built

Miss Nellie Dodd's sixth and seventh grade students gather for a class picture in front of the Red Brick school in 1910.

Until 1898, the highest level of public education offered in Dover was the eighth grade. Students wishing to continue their education enrolled in private, tuition-based academies. On May 10, 1898, the Dover Board of Education decided to establish a high school in Dover.

At a board meeting two months later, it was agreed that the high school would be located on the township property known as the fairgrounds at the center of town (now the site of Lee Burneson Middle School). The classes were to be held in the now-vacant Dover Academy building.

Early in the summer of 1898, Mr. C.M. Walworth was hired as Dover's first superintendent. In September 1898, out-houses were built at the school, as well as sheds for stabling the horses.

Once a student graduated from the eighth grade or from one of the eight sub-district schools located in Dover, he or she could attend what was known as Central High School. All nine districts were represented in the first high school. The students came from all over Dover; the farthest being from Coe Ridge (Lorain Road) and Lake Road.

In 1902, the Board of Education resolved that at the end of the school year the superintendent would prepare a list of questions for final exam of grammar students as well as the final exam for entrance to high school. It was also decided that the work of the grammar schools be more thorough and the high school consist of four years. 

In 1908 the voters in Dover passed a bond issue to construct a four-room central brick building. The Red Brick School opened in fall 1909. In 1913, four additional rooms were completed.

The top floor classrooms were for the upper grades. The lower level was used for the younger grades, and the old Dover Academy building – often referred to as the "cow shed" – was used by Miss Nellie Dodd for the middle grades.

In 1914, the Dover Academy building burned and was torn down. The Red Brick School served as a high school until 1923 when a new high school was erected nearby on the site of the old Academy building.

The Westlake Historical Society has a replica of an old-time school room located upstairs in the Clague House Museum.  The school room features a McGuffy Reader, old-fashioned desks and memories of school days gone by. The museum is open to the public from 2-4 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month.

Source: "The First 100 Years of Dover Schools," by May E. Weston.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:23 PM, 06.01.2011