Monday, October 24, 2011

Northeast Ohio Museums - Discover Two Hidden Gems in Lake County

Museums come in all sizes.  Some museums dominate the landscape.  A lighthouse in Fairport is one example.  A historic church in Kirtland is another.  Some museums are famous homes.  The Presidential Home of James A. Garfield on Mentor Avenue is one such site.  The Mathews Home on the campus of Lake Erie College is yet another.  Some communities have unique structures that tell a story.  Painesville's Rider's Inn, Unionville's Old Tavern, and Wickliffe's Coulby Mansion are examples that come to mind.  Properties can be a living museum.  Holden Arboretum and Lake Farmpark are two local sites that bear mentioning.  History surrounds and often when not large in size can be missed.  Today, we look at two museums often missed by visitors and students of history.  Both are one room school houses, hidden gems in Lake County's history.

Old Stone School House -  Located at 7125 Ravenna Road in Concord Township, this school house dates back 171 years.  Built in 1840, it served as a one room school house until 1923.  It became a private residence for many years afterwards.  In time, it became the business office of a local builder.  The site was purchased in 2001 by Concord Township and history was revisited.  Three years of renovations and volunteer efforts were rewarded on May 31, 2004 when the Old Stone School House reopened.  On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 4-7pm visitors may enter the old schoolhouse and view education in its earliest setting.  The Old Stone School House also serves as the History Center for Concord Township.

Riverside School #2  -  Situated at the bottom of a small hill in Kirtland, this old school house is located at 9045 Baldwin Road.  Currently a Lake Metroparks maintained property, the school house still serves its original purpose.  The school house first opened in 1894.  Grades 1-8 were served and thirty students were in the inaugural class.  The school's motto was 'Learn and You Will Know'.  The school remained open through 1921.  It became a private residence in the years that followed.  In 1988, Anthony S. Ocepek donated his residence to the park system with the sole intent of making it an educational center.  His desire has been realized as the School House serves as a nature center to this day.  The Center is open to visitors and school field trips. Advance notice is required.  Programs may be found on the Lake Metroparks website.

Webster defines a museum as a building in which objects of historical, artistic, or cultural interest are stored or exhibited.  Both one room sites meet the criteria and remain yet another example of Lake County's hidden history.

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