The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from Perry: Genoa schoolhouse lights up for the holidays

  • The township’s history records that the 1893 Genoa schoolhouse was the last built of 10 one-room schoolhouses that once were the sites of learning endeavors during the 1800s in Perry Township.

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  • Simple wreaths adorn the one-room schoolhouse at 539 Genoa Ave. SW, across the street from the Perry Township Police Department.
    Spotlights highlight this reserved display of holiday spirit. The decorations are in keeping with the era of this vintage educational structure.
    No. 10 Schoolhouse was built in 1893.
    “We kept it simple to represent the 1890s,” said Steve Toohey, who for three years has decorated the schoolhouse for the holidays.
    “I went by about a week ago and it was looking kind of cold and shabby, so I put up some wreaths and set the lights to a timer. They come on about 6 at night and stay on until just prior to dawn. So now we have a light show every night. The poor old building has some issues with the roof, but we try to spruce it up as much as we can.”
    The need to replace the schoolhouse roof and address other physical deterioration led Stan Krawson and fellow history enthusiasts to found Perry Township History Club, five years ago. The group meets monthly in a room in the Perry Police Department to consider the school and other projects related to the township’s history.
    “The organization formed to save that Genoa schoolhouse, but it morphed into a club that does other things. For example, one of our members is working on a book about Perry Township history which we hope to have ready for the township’s bicentennial celebration, starting at the end
    of 2013 and extending through 2014,” Krawson said.
    The township’s history records that the 1893 Genoa schoolhouse was the last built of 10 one-room schoolhouses that once were the sites of learning endeavors during the 1800s in Perry Township.
    “Five of the school buildings still are standing, two of which are businesses and two of which are private residences,” said Krawson, founding president of Perry History Club. “These are buildings that have been not so much restored as remodeled and updated. We’re working on an authentic restoration of the Genoa schoolhouse.”
    Many in the history club have ties to the Genoa structure.
    “We have people in the club who had grandparents who went to the school. It also functioned as a church for a time, and we have club members who have people in their families who were married in that church or who attended Sunday services there,” said Krawson.
    While it was operating as a school — first grade to eighth grade — from 1893 until the middle of the 1920s, its pupils would have lived through their share of historical events, noted Krawson.
    “It was open when President McKinley was in office and it
    was open during World War I,” he said.
    Although it is not open today, club members — who already have collected such items as desks, textbooks and other classroom equipment — are attempting to restore it to a state that it could at least be viewed as a former site of education.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The restoration has made some progress and it’s had some setbacks,” said Krawson, who noted that members are writing grant proposals attempting to raise funds from the community.
    “The building is solid enough to be preserved and it’s a good-sized one-room schoolhouse. It’s just a slow process.”
    Those who want to get involved in that restoration process can become members of Perry History Club or make donations to the cause by visiting www.perryhistoryclub.org or calling Richard Whitmer, club treasurer, at 330-844-5792.
    For now, the illuminated Christmas wreaths that decorate the 1893 schoolhouse will bring a subtle awareness of the historical treasure to those who pass by it during the holiday season.
    “Our intention is to keep it visible to Perry Township residents,” said Toohey. “We aren’t going to give up. We want people to know this building is still alive.”

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