Monday, August 20, 2012

As Mentor Celebrates 50 Years - A look back at Center Street School

Education has always been at the forefront of all our ancestors.  The earliest pioneers and settlers to the Western Reserve and Lake County were no different.  Some fifteen years after the signing of the U. S. Constitution, the first Mentor school was in operation.  Located in the old village section of Mentor, the names Thomas Skinner, Abraham Skinner, and Warren Corning played important roles in the early school's creation.  A 15' square school house had been erected from a log shanty belonging to Peter French.  Perhaps meant to serve as a cow stable in its initial construction, this first school was situated on the site of the current Mitsubishi showroom and served the first students of Mentor.  Thomas was looking to settle in the area but only if it suitable school were in place.  Assured by his brother Abraham that this was no issue, property deeded by Warren Corning for a brick schoolhouse allowed the first school to be improved upon.  By 1853 Mentor had 15 school districts, all distinct and unique in philosophy.  The present Center Street Village School ( Mentor Village School) was built in 1914.  The 1862 bell from the old building was perched on top of the school.  That 1000 pound bell may be seen today on the brick island in front of the former school.  Some legend and lore surround the story of the 'well' that was once located in the front yard.  1927 saw a gym and auditorium added to the school.  Junior High at Mentor Village School is a part of the building's history.

In many ways the growth of Mentor from a sleepy village with a rural ambiance into the bustling big city of 2012 can be seen in the history of one of its earliest edifices located in the old village section on the corners of Mentor Avenue and Center Street.  Many of the lives and their childhood memories touched by its walls still reside nearby.

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