THE EARLIEST DAYS...
While there is considerable uncertainty about the earliest educational developments in Dover, history evidences that its original founders, Christian Deardorff and Jesse Slingluff, had a great appreciation for educational institutions, and that schoolhouses have been in existence since the City's earliest days.
Some of the City's oldest inhabitants believe that the first school house was in Judge Deardorff's own log cabin. However, the first reliable schoolhouse was a small building that stood on the canal bank in the area between Wooster and Race Streets. While history records that there were only about 10 houses in Dover in 1826, that first schoolhouse on the canal banks was built in 1827.
Mr. George McConnell was hired in 1827 by the City's leaders and the school's first teacher. He is described as an "intelligent New Yorker, married and blessed with a family, but somewhat inclined toward vices of the day." He boarded with families of his students, and taught into the era of the "free schools"... more widely known today as public schools.
McConnell also taught this first school in what was known as the "Brush School House," as it was in the woods, or the brush, on the south side of Fourth Street near the Fourth Street Cemetery. This small frame schoolhouse was built in 1832 and used until a brick building was constructed in 1844.
In 1844, this two-story brick building was built on the north side of Fourth Street between Cherry Alley and Walnut Street. At this time, the schools were divided into four departments: primary, secondary, grammar, and high school. All students were all housed in this brick building on Fourth Street named Union School, which was a co-educational, select school for 53 students, ages seven and up. Subjects taught included elementary subjects, as well as reading, writing, chemistry, botany, geometry, "mental and moral philosophy," French, and even embroidery. When the Union School was no longer used as a school, it was made into apartment housing before being demolished in 1982 to make a parking lot.
In 1866, a new frame schoolhouse was built on the old Crater homestead at the head of Second Street and was first occupied in 1868. It was remodeled in 1883 and the Dover High School was located on its third floor. This site included outside toilets, a water pump, and a coal house on the grounds.
In 1878, the large residence built by Nathaniel Hayden on Walnut Street and the surrounding grove of oak trees was purchased for $6,000. In 1889-1890, Oak Grove School was constructed to house the high school, as well as two primary departments. The Oak Grove School sat in what is now the front lawn of Dover High School. Other primary departments were housed at the Second Street School and South Avenue School at this time as well. (These schools are described in further detail in the "Framework for Modern Facilities" section.)
MAKING THE DISTRICT "OFFICIAL"...
On February 21, 1849, in effort to provide better regulation of public schools, legislation was enacted allowing the electors of School District No. 1 of Dover Township to assemble on April 20, 1849, to vote for or against the adoption of a public school system. This 1849 election resulted in a unanimous vote in favor or adopting the provisions of the act, making a separate school district from the remainder of the township, and was then known as Union Schools.
On May 5, 1849, a board of six directors, which had the power to levy taxes and assessments, was elected. On June 22 of that year, it was resolved to assess four mills on each dollar on all taxable property in School District No. 1 for school purposes. On October 26, 1849, the directors hired Julius Lee as the first superintendent of schools at a salary of $400 per year.
On April 8, 1850, a resolution was passed authorizing the levy of a tax of $500 for the purpose of building a new schoolhouse. In 1851, William H. Quantrill, father of noted rebel guerilla William Clark Quantrill, was made superintendent of schools.
The first institution called a "high school" was organized in the fall of 1862 with J.L. McIlvaine as principal. While the earliest course work was brief, it was intense, with the goal seemingly to have been to complete the essentials of the day's modern curriculum in one year's time. The first class, of three graduates, to have ceremoniously graduated from the school was in 1875; prior to this time, it seems students merely stopped attending with ceremony when the curriculum was completed.
Dover High School was recognized as a first-grade high school on January 29, 1903, and was recognized by the North Central Association of Colleges in 1907; Dover High School still holds that accreditation with North Central Association/AdvancEd to date, and was recognized for 100 years of affiliation in 2007.
In 1945, the first kindergarten was organized and was held in the Dover Avenue Elementary School, and all children in Dover who turned five by September 1, were eligible to attend. Since most parents were not familiar with the program and it was not compulsory, it was very small. Transportation for the two-hour sessions was the responsibility of parents. As the hours changed to allow the kindergarteners to ride the bus with elementary students, the enrollment increased, and the parents were demanding it be offered at all four elementary schools.
In 1959, the student body of that grades 7-12, six-year high school was divided into a two-year junior high, and a four-year senior high.
DOVER CITY SCHOOLS AND DOVER TOWNSHIP SCHOOLS...
Although the 1849 election that made Dover City Schools a separate school district from the remainder of the township schools, within time, most of those schools eventually became a part of the Dover City School District, either as a stand-alone physical sites for a time period, or in merging with some of the Dover City School District facilities.
In 1900, a system of graded schools was made compulsory in the State of Ohio, and authority was granted the township schools to abolish their local schools and set up one or more centralized schools. Students were to be transported at public expense... which is known to some as the beginning of the end for the "little red schoolhouses."
The following schools were all originally a part of the Dover Township schools:
Upper Brandywine School: Located on Route 39; Frame building built in ca. 1830, and brick building erected in 1894; closed in 1926
The Crooked Run School: Located at County Rd. 52 at the junction with county Rd. 79; Frame building built ca. 1861 at a cost of $625, replaced by a brick building erected in 1927; closed in 1952
The Quebec School (also called Stauffer School): Located on what is now State Route 516 on the Dover-Winfield Road at the corner of Twp. Road 374; last year of school was the winter of 1930-31 when students were transferred to the Winfield School
The Oak Grove School: located in the Ruslin Hills area north of Dover at the junction of County Road 80 and Dover Township Road 368; this school was built about 1886 on land that was part of the John Franz Farm. It was heated with two pot-belly stoves, with wood chopped and carried from the forested area of the farm. All eight grades were taught in the one room with as many as forty pupils in attendance at one time. After finishing the eighth grade, Oak Grove students were graduated at ceremonies held at Wooster Highway School. Music classes were taught once a week by A.E. Spear who owned a music store on Factory Street in Dover. The school was closed in 1941 and the pupils were transferred to Wooster Highway School. It was converted to a dwelling and currently houses The School House Winery on Schneider's Crossing Road just outside of Dover.
The Wagner School: located on the north side of Dover Township Road 417; converted to a dwelling and currently houses The School House Winery on Schneider's Crossing Road just outside of Dover
The Penobscott School: located just north of Dover on the Dover-Zoar Road (County Road 82); first schoolhouse was a frame structure replaced with a brick schoolhouse in 1912; closed is 1944 and students were transported to Wooster Highway School
The Winfield School: frame structure originally located near the Zion Lutheran Church; ca. 1865, the building was replaced, and in 1883, a two-story brick building was erected; in 1915, the building secured a state charter to house a high school, and the first commencement was held in 1917; a bond issue for a news building was approved in 1920, and the new school opened in 1922; an addition housing a gymnasium, cafeteria, and classrooms was built in the early 1950's; in 1958, the Dover Township Board relinquished control to the Dover City Board and in 1962 the school closed and students were bused to Dover; the building was not used again until it was purchased by the United Methodist Church in 1971
Lower Brandywine School: located on Dover Township Road 374; established about 1867; closed in 1948 when students were bused to Dover Schools
The Hooppole School: brick building erected on the Dover-Zoar Road (County Road 82) on land obtained in 1870; used until 1934 when students were transferred to Wooster Highway
The New Zealand School (also known as the Milner and Keller School): located on Township Road 374; when the Keller School closed in 1920, students attended the Quebec School until overcrowding there caused them to be bussed to the Winfield School in 1922
The Wooster Highway School: the two-story brick school was built in 1917 on Wooster Highway (now known as Wooster Avenue); eight grades were housed in this school, and at one time a two-year high school; an auditorium/gymnasium was added in the early 1930's, and a cafeteria was added in 1943; while some records indicate the school's consolidating with Dover City Schools in 1958, classes were held in this building until 1962, at which time students were bussed to the other Dover Schools; this building currently houses The Ark Daycare Facility on Wooster Avenue
LAYING THE FRAMEWORK FOR MODERN FACILITIES...
In 1896, the original Second Street School on the Crater homestead, was rebuilt into a brick building, Second Street School that some may remember. Second Street School was used as an elementary school until it was demolished in 1952. On October 20, 1952, Principal O.L. Youngen, who had been the principal for 38 years, closed the doors for the last time, and the students, carrying their books, marched to their new elementary school, East Elementary School. East Elementary is still serving children in the Dover District today.
In 1894, an elementary was erected on Union Avenue between Shafer and South Avenues. It was known as South Avenue School and housed six grades. It was used until 1952, when the current South Elementary School was built on the corner of Shafer and Prospect Streets. The bell from the original Second Street School in mounted on the front lawn on South Elementary today.
In 1914, a two-story building was built on the corner of 13th Street and Dover Avenue. Dover Avenue Elementary is still in use as an elementary school today.
In 1915, the high school building, known as Roosevelt High, was erected on 5th Street. In addition to the high school, the building also housed the Dover Public Library, which had been located in a building at the corner of 5th and Walnut Streets. That original library site was torn down when the new high school was built. The library was housed inside the high school until the library board purchased the Horn property on Walnut Street, and later moved to a site on the corner of Walnut and Sixth Streets. The original Roosevelt High still houses a large part of Dover High School today.
By 1920, Dover had three elementary schools: Dover Avenue, South Avenue School, and Second Street School. Additionally, Oak Grove School on Walnut Street had also been remodeled and then housed twelve grades.
Dover was one of the many communities that realized benefits from the federal government through the WPA Project in the 1930's. Dover Avenue Elementary building was remodeled at this time, and in 1936, an addition that housed a gymnasium and cafeteria was added to Dover Avenue.
In 1936, Crater Stadium was built as part of the WPA Project. The land upon which Crater Stadium sits was owned by the Crater Family. The grandson, Harry Crater, gave the land upon which Crater Stadium was completed in 1937 to the Dover City School District.
Also as part of the WPA Project, the Oak Grove School, which previously sat in the area that is now the front lawn of the high school, was razed, and an addition to the high school was completed at a cost of $800,000. This 1938 new addition to the high school provided instructional facilities for grades 7-12 of the District. An auditorium seating 1,300 was constructed as part of the school at that time, and served as a community hub.
This new building, attached to the original 1915 Roosevelt High, became Dover High School and Sixth Street Elementary; it housed six elementary grades on the Sixth Street side, the original Roosevelt High wing, and housed grades 7-12 in the remainder of the new facility. This site currently houses the Dover High School.
In 1958, the Kent State University Survey Service made recommendations to the Dover City School District, which included the physical facilities of the District, the curriculum, and faculty/staffing recommendations. As a result of this survey, the Dover citizens voted in favor of a $1.8 million bond issue on November 8, 1960. At the same time, citizens of Dover gave a 62% affirmative voted for an additional tax levy for operating expenses.
As a result, Park Elementary School was constructed in 1962 in the north end of Dover near the City Park. Park Elementary has served as an elementary building, a grade 5-6 building for the District, and currently serves as Dover Middle School for students in grades 6-8. Additionally, in 1963, a new wing on the high school was completed, providing a modern library, cafeteria, and gymnasium.
In 1992, Dover voters approved by a 59 to 41% margin a 3.8 mill bond issue. As a result, Dover Avenue, East, and South Elementaries were renovated; additional classrooms, libraries, and computer labs were added to these sites in fall of 1993. Park Elementary was renovated and additional space was added. Additional classrooms, music rooms, a new library, offices and a second gymnasium transformed it into Dover Middle School for Dover's 6-8th graders. These renovations to Dover Middle School were completed by the fall of 1994. Science labs were also renovated and upgraded at Dover High School at this time.