By Linda Dillman
In 2009, the walls came tumbling down on Hamilton Township High School’s 1939 and 1962 buildings, but it was not the first time in the district’s history that a high school was replaced—it was actually the third occasion.
In the late 1800s, the district’s first four-year high school opened in Lockbourne and was in use until 1918, when the Miner High School on Rohr Road opened. Today, the Lockbourne site—which also served as a masonic lodge—is undergoing a massive renovation, taking the structure back to its original appearance. The Miner building now houses apartments.
In 1939, school operations moved to Lockbourne Road, when a new $230,000 state-of-the-art high school, financed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration, was hailed as one of the most modern and completely equipped school buildings in Ohio for a smaller school district.
Hamilton Township school district officials in the 1930s said the multi-level structure—which fell to a wrecking ball 70 years later—housed a complete industrial arts department equipped for instruction in automotive work, gas and electric welding, foundry, woodworking printing and metal art.
A first-of-its-kind photography darkroom was included in the design, which was a new concept for high schools, as well as a first-floor general science laboratory. Programming for young women included a home economics department featuring a cooking laboratory with four electric stoves, sewing and dining rooms, and a bedroom where girls were taught housework and basic nursing.
A 500-seat auditorium served double duty as a performance space and gymnasium for 230 students. With the construction of Lockbourne Air Force Base and the influx of military families, student enrollment pushed past the 600 mark by 1959.
A million-dollar addition was constructed in 1962 and housed a dedicated gymnasium, classrooms, industrial arts space, printing lab, band and choir space, offices and a full-service cafeteria.
As air base operations continued to grow, enrollment throughout the district grew to 4,000 students in the 1970s, pushing capacity to its limits with grades 7-12 in the high school complex until an intermediate building opened on Rathmell Road.
Prior to the new building, resources were so tight that three students often shared one locker.
Hamilton Central Elementary on Rathmell Road opened in 1953, replacing a Shadeville school where students had no indoor plumbing or running water and brought their own drinking water to school when an outdoor pump froze in winter.
The elementary school closed and was razed in 2006 to make way for the construction of the new $25 million high school on Rathmell Road, which mimics the look of the 1939 building with towering Ionic columns and a cupola.
The new building opened in time for the 2009-10 school year. Inside, a 53’x8’ high mural honoring the township and the school district’s history greets visitors to the cafeteria and commons area and a Hall of History, with class graduation composites dating back to 1918, lines classroom hallways.
Thanks, Linda ~
I enjoyed reading about the history of HTHS even though I learned most of it from my dad, Paul Prushing. I think I was the last class,1960. to graduate from the now ‘old’high school. I’m been back for many of the Alumni Banquets and already had my plane ticket for this year but sadly we know how the year went.
I hope to see everyone in May, 2021
Elaine (Prushing) Lopez