EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
In 1899 the city of Findlay took a step forward, educationally, that in reality constituted a milestone for the local public schools.
On Dec. 19, the electors of the school district voted to build a high school. The results of the balloting were as follow: yes, 1,131; no, 446.
The board of education had debated long and heatedly with regard to the issue. All fall in 1899, the matter of the solution of the problem of high school facilities was the foremost question on the agenda at meetings of the board. It was finally decided to have the people to vote at a special election.
The proposal carried in every precinct but one, after a very brief campaign. The special election was held in the shortest time possible after the board’s resolution went to the board of elections.
Very few cities of Findlay’s size and even larger had special and separate buildings for their high school classes. High school students were quartered in portions of an elementary school building usually. In Findlay, this was the Central building on East Sandusky Street. The top floor of the three-story structure was utilized for the high school classes. The third story also was used for public assemblages. It was called Columbia Hall.
The high school classes had met in the Central school from the time the first such classes were conducted. The high school as such had been established in 1873, or five years after the Central’s erection. The Central is now gone. It remained as a school until around 1916. It was sold to Robert W. Kirk, who razed the structure, leaving standing, however, some of the stone foundation as a part of a new building he erected. Sentimental considerations were behind the leaving of these stones, it was understood.
With the special election only six days from Christmas, the favorable vote constituted a Yuletide gift which the community gave itself. The voter turnout was small, but the outcome was a great victory for the advocates of an improved high school situation locally. There were 1,577 electors who went to the polls out of an estimated 5,000 electors within the school district.
With the decision to build, the matter of a site for the new structure was the next subject for consideration by the board of education. With Christmas over, the board plunged into this difficult problem immediately. Four possible sites came under consideration and definite proposals were before the board on all four. One was the site which was eventually selected at the northwest corner of West Main Cross and South Cory streets. The others were along West Street, on corners of West Sandusky, West Main Cross Street and West Front Street.
Finally, on the evening of Jan. 23 a decision was made by ballot. The Cory Street location was the choice. Nine of the 15 members of the board voted for this site. The West Sandusky-West site came next in number of votes cast.
The owners of the Main Cross-Cory site offered to sell for $12,400. There were four owners: Mrs. Sarah H. Geyer, Foster Geuey, E.D. Snyder and Mrs. Minerva Snyder. Their combined offers came to the $12,400 figure.
The members, in making their decision, had before them an elaborate map, made by U.K. Stringfellow, who showed the four proposed locations and their surroundings.
The Front Street site was withdrawn before voting started.
The site chosen was represented by members favoring it as the most centrally located. It also held an attraction in that it was the cheapest of the sites offered.
With the completion of the balloting, a resolution was then offered to put the choice into the board’s official minutes. All members but one voted favorably.
Next week: more about Findlay’s first high school.