Remembering the Hartman School

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The Hartman School

A lonely little brick building located at the intersection of Rathmell Road and U.S. 23 (South High Street)—now forlorn and boarded up with many of its architectural features long since removed—once served as an early schoolhouse for the Hamilton Township school district.

The structure is thought to have been built for Hartman Farm workers in the early 1900s when Dr. Samuel Hartman created a state-of-the-art farm, which—at one time—sprawled across the southern limit of Franklin County. Rows of simple houses like this one once lined the east side of High Street and served as homes for farm families whose children attended the one-room schoolhouse.

Hartman built a fortune on Peruna tonic, a patent medicine he created and touted as a cure-all for a wide range of ailments.

However, the foundation of his empire was allegedly little more than a watery concoction consisting of more than 25 percent alcohol, but what Hartman did with his profits left a positive lasting imprint on Columbus with the Hartman Hotel (now a condominium complex) and the Hartman Farm—a massive operation with a stable, dairy and orchards.

The 2,900-acre farm served as a small village providing housing, everyday needs and education for farm children. The agricultural heart of the farm was a model of scientific development.

To build the original 1880s-era schoolhouse on the site, a $1,500 levy was ordered by the local school board on all taxable township property. Five pages of detailed plans and building specifications were recorded in an old ledger book indicating all of the materials were of the highest quality available at the time.

Christian Zebold submitted a construction bid of $1,274 and the schoolhouse was ready for students in October 1880. The site was leased from Cynthia Holmes for five dollars. Hartman later purchased the parcel and asked the school board in 1904 for permission to grade and improve the grounds.

However, in 1905, when the federal Pure Food and Drug Act was adopted, and Hartman’s empire started to collapse.

In 1926, students attended class for the last time in the one-room building before the school was closed and pupils transported to Obetz and Shadeville. In 1930, the school board ordered the building sold at public auction. It was used as a private residence for several years and is now owned by the Hartman estate.

Where animals once roamed fertile fields and grape orchards provided the raw material for wine, a busy interstate now bisects the land and a quarry operation digs deep pits into the soil in search of the raw material for roadways and construction.

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