By Linda Dillman
The Canal Winchester school complex at 100 Washington St. was, at one time, Ohio’s oldest s
choolhouse still in use, with one portion of the building dating back to 1862.
While the structure was vacated as day-to-day classroom space in 2008, it continues to serve the community in many ways, including school board offices, meeting and storage space, a Columbus Metropolitan Library branch and home to the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame.
In 1861, construction began on the original, four-room building at a cost of $1,300. It opened a year later with a staff of two teachers. Thirteen years later, the building was remodeled with the addition of two new rooms and vestibules at a cost of $6,594.
The first graduating class of seven students was in 1886 and graduates ranged in age from 17 to 23. In 1908, another unattached building was constructed nearby and linked to the original structure in the late 1920s.
In 1885, the superintendent was paid $100 a month and teachers in the grammar department earned $50 a month. Elementary teachers received $35 a month.
Throughout the decades, other buildings were added in the 1950s and 1960s to the complex until a new high school was built in 1976 at 300 Washington St. It, too, has undergone a series of expansions over the years, starting in 1993 until the present day.
A new middle school—also previously housed in the Washington Street complex—joined the growing inventory in 2008, as well as a pair of elementary buildings: Indian Trail in 1999 and Winchester Trail in 2002.
While the opening of the new middle school brought the end to 100 Washington St. as a classroom building, it also opened up opportunities for the district.
Today, it is an education center and home to district administrative services, except for transportation. All board meetings are held there and it is also the home of the high school performing arts center, Oley Speaks.
“Oley Speaks is used by various community groups throughout the year,” said Superintendent James Sotlar. “The Columbus Metropolitan Express Branch Library is located in the old cafeteria area of the middle school and the Barber Museum is located in the far south wing of the old middle school. It’s an historic part of Canal Winchester, and I am glad we are still using the building for school purposes. As you walk through the halls looking at the graduating class pictures from the early 1900s to the present, and then listen to the stories from community members who went to school there, it makes you feel very proud to be part of this great school district and community.”