Old school could get a new life

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
The Hartman School

A little brick building at the corner of U.S. Route 23 and Rathmell Road once served students of Hamilton Local Schools as far back as the late 19th century and area resident Walley Obert is hoping to continue that tradition.

Now abandoned and boarded up as construction continues on a nearby Google complex, the little schoolhouse built in 1880 could get a second life.

School doors closed to students in 1926 and the building was sold at public auction in 1930. It is currently owned by the Hartman Foundation and was one of many Hartman Farms row homes.

Obert started an effort to move the brick one-story structure well before COVID struck and never abandoned his dream of keeping the structure safe from the wrecking ball in the name of progress.

“This building was intended to be used to teach students,” said Obert, “and it can be again.”

A proposed new home for what became known as the Hartman School is on grounds bordering the Hamilton Elementary School just up the road off of Parsons Avenue. Obert said organizers plan to create a non-profit group in order to fund the project.

“I never stopped talking about it and I’m hoping to get it accomplished within three years,” said Obert, who is a Hamilton Board of Education member, but spearheading the project as a private, passionate citizen. “I’d like to see our history brought to our campus. It’s personally important to me to keep this history. There are some things we have to do and other things we don’t have to do because it’s an historical building.”

While public school funding cannot be used in support of the project, Hamilton Schools

Superintendent Mark Tyler said the district can provide the land to rebuild the Hartman school.

“This is an opportunity for the community to preserve a part of its history,” said Tyler.

Obert said volunteers are talking with a Zanesville contractor to see if the structure can be moved as it now stands, east up Rathmell Road to Parsons Avenue southbound and then east to the school campus.

While changes were made when the schoolhouse was turned into a private residence, Obert said original wood window frames are still intact, as well as an original plaster chalkboard.

“When we were in there, I pulled off some peeling wallpaper and the chalkboard was underneath,” said Obert. “It still has a wood ceiling and was a very well structured building with a cedar shingled roof that was later slated over. We’re just in the preliminary phase of the project and should know within two to three weeks what the cost should be. We’ll need volunteers to help and if it can be done, we’re going to need to have local fundraisers.”

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