Groveport School to celebrate its 100th birthday


By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Photos courtesy of the Groveport Heritage Museum
Groveport School as it appeared in 1926.

The Groveport Madison Local School District is 175-years-old and for 100 of those years Groveport School (now Groveport Elementary has served the educational needs of the district and the community.

An open house celebrating the 100th year of Groveport School, 715 Main St., will be held Aug. 5 from 1-3 p.m. Adult community members are invited inside the beautiful school to celebrate its historic milestone at the Groveport School 100th Year Celebration. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Doors for the open house will open at 12:30 p.m. There will be a short program including speakers, a video, a slideshow, and a performance from the Groveport Madison Area Community Choir beginning at 1 p.m. in the second floor auditorium. Slideshow/videos, and memorabilia will be on display on the first and second floors.

This is the original architect’s drawing of Groveport School. The plan for the school originally called for a more ornate building and included a grand stairway at the main entrance.

This historic building has multiple staircases and is not handicap accessible, Some displays will be available on the first floor. According to the event’s organizing committee, this event is for adults only given the fragile nature of the historic memorabilia on display.

“I think the community is proud of our school and Groveport Elementary’s place in Groveport history,” said Groveport Elementary Principal April Bray. “The community has always been very supportive of the school and they value education and want to preserve our history. Our staff take great pride in our school and its history. I often hear parents and visitors saying, ‘I love this old building. It feels like a real school.’”

The school’s restored auditorium.

Although the school is 100 years old, Bray said it does still serve the district well educationally and it provides advantages that some newer schools do not.

“For example, our beautiful auditorium and our gymnasium that serves as only a gym and not also a cafeteria,” said Bray. “I’m proud to be a Cruiser and blessed to be able to be part of the history and serve this community. I can only imagine how many of our former students have gone on to help change and make the world a better place and how many of our future students will do the same.”

The gym as it looked when the school was brand new.

To get involved and share your photo memories of Groveport School, e-mail April Bray,

A history of Groveport School
Communities are made up of diverse elements which include various commercial and cultural interests as well as different religious faiths. The public institution in which most members of a community share a common experience is the public school.

A school embodies the shared collective memory of a community. There is a linear timeline one can follow as a child sits in the same classroom or plays ball on the same field as their parents and grandparents once did. Groveport School is one such building that provides a tangible link between the members of the community.

Kids on the school’s playground in the 1920s.

In 1848 the citizens of Groveport and Madison Township decided it was time to provide a public education for all their children and voted to create the Groveport Madison school district. The first school building to serve all grade levels was built at Walnut and Elm streets. The area continued to grow and in 1884 a new 12 grade school was built on College Street. This building would be used for 39 years.

On Aug. 8, 1921, with enrollment on the rise, the Groveport Madison Board of Education presented a bond issue to the district, which the voters approved, to build the $225,000, three story Groveport School on east Main Street to house all 12 grades, as well as an elementary school at Edwards’ Station on Alum Creek Drive at Williams Road. (In an architectural curiosity, Edwards Elementary was designed as a smaller version of Groveport School.)

The school’s fountain was recently restored through efforts by current students.

Bond issue campaign literature from 1921 noted the new Groveport School would enable the district to close the six one room schools it operated in the township. It also stated the bond issue would cost the owner of “$1,000 property $3.82 a year, or 32 cents a month for the first year” with gradual decreases in future years.

Groveport School opened in 1923 and housed all 12 grades until the mid-1950s when it transformed into being solely an elementary school when a new high school was built next door. Groveport School was constructed on land that was once pasture land owned by the Rarey family and where the famous horse Cruiser used to romp.

The school features interior golden glazed brick walls as well as a separate gymnasium and auditorium, which is unique for schools of its era that often combined the gym and auditorium into one room. Older residents recall how loud the gym could be when it was packed with fans during basketball games. The auditorium is noted for its fine acoustics.

Ten acres of athletic fields and playground ring the structure. Its grand front lawn features a boulder that serves as a handsome World War II memorial as well as a magnificent stone fountain. Inside the school’s foyer is a Roll of Honor listing the names of those from Groveport who fought in World War II.

The school’s facade.

The original classroom design for Groveport School included manual arts, agriculture laboratory, machine shop, home economics, cafeteria, and storage, locker rooms on the first floor. The second floor housed grades 1-8 while the third floor held the high school classrooms.

At one time the stairs were painted red and the handrails black in honor of the school district’s colors. Today the floors have red and black tile. The front foyer of the school features its original clock as well as a list of World War II veterans who attended the school.

Education giants
Groveport School was the home to many fine educators. Two who stand out are Paul “Pete” Glendening and Lucinda Doersam.

Glendening served Groveport Madison from 1922 to 1969 as a teacher, coach, and principal. During his tenure he taught a variety of subjects and coached boys football, basketball, and baseball; as well as girls basketball and softball at all grade levels. Glendening Elementary, built in 1971, is named in his honor.

Doersam worked for Groveport Madison as a teacher, coach, principal and acting superintendent when needed. No subject seemed to be beyond her reach as she taught English, French, history, math, and biology. She is noted as one of the district’s most successful girls basketball coaches as her teams were a dominant force in the old Franklin County League.

Place in the community
Besides providing a home for education, Groveport School has been a social center for both community and school functions including farmers’ exhibits, dances, lyceum courses, plays, athletics, and concerts.

In the 21st century, Groveport School remains a thriving and active place educationally. It is an architectural jewel nestled in downtown Groveport that is a functioning reminder of Groveport and Madison Township’s past as well as a beacon of promise for the future.

Above all, it remains a symbol of the area’s desire to provide a solid public education to its citizenry.

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