A brief history of Northfield Schools
The information on this page was researched & written by Irene Kusmierz, long-time resident of Northfield Center Township and the Northfield Historical Society, September 2009.
There were no laws governing schools or school taxes, so individual neighborhoods built and furnished their own schools. And, because these Schools were widely scattered, they were known as District Schools.
Northfield One Room School
The first school in the Bacon District, prior to 1817, was the Rowly House, a small log cabin situated near 11004 Valley View Road (Renear Farm aka Spring Pond). It was built and paid for by the parents of the children who attended. It was large enough to accommodate twelve pupils.
The first log school in Olde Northfield was built in 1825 and was located on the “square.” The first frame school in Northfield was built in 1835 and was located at approximately at 9279 Olde Route 8 Road and was later replaced by the “Twin Brick School” in 1871.
The frame school building was moved to the northwest side of the road. It became a blacksmith and wagon shop. It was eventually torn down for a new store built by Elmer Folk, in 1925.
In the fall of 1916, the Red Brick Twin School was ravaged by fire due to a faulty furnace. It was agreed to rush through the construction of a new school, located at 9370 Olde Eight Road. In the interim, the high school, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades were taught in the basement of the new Northfield Town Hall. The lower grades continued to be in the old building.
In the photo is one of the “twin” Red Brick Schools built in 1871. This one was at 9279 Olde Route 8 and the Macedonia twin was located at 9735 Valley View Road. If you look at the top of the building you can see the school bell in the belfry. An annex was later added to this building and Northfield had its first high school. The first four year graduating class was in 1894.
In Brandywine, a log cabin school was built in 1817. In 1830, this was replaced by a frame school. Several children from the adjoining Boston Township area came to Brandywine Mills School, too, because anyone could attend so long as they paid the required fee. Even children who lived near Northfield went to Brandywine. The 1830 frame school later became William Sommer’s artist’s studio until it was destroyed when 1-271 was built.
A new school was built on the West side of Brandywine Road in 1854. In 1908 it became a private residence. This building still stands on its original foundation. The building has been modified, but you can still see the familiar “standard” style of the 1850s.
In 1826, a stone school was built on Route 82, at the corner of Carter Road. It was used, according to information, until 1881, when a frame school was built. In 1908, the schools were centralized and the frame school house was re-built as a wing on the George T. Bishop Estate, on Valley View Road, behind the private residence.
In 1901, George T. Bishop returned to live in Northfield. When he learned the “Little Stone Jug,” as it was called, was to be razed, he purchased it and paid to have the stone school disassembled and moved to his new estate. Here, he had it re-assembled in the original way as a wing to the part of his house. A new chimney was built and on one end and a bell mounted on the other end. Mr. Bishop must have bought the seats, too, since a friend who was shown into the former school remarked to Mr. Bishop, “George, if you would have someone refinish these desks and seats they would be beautiful.” In reply, Mr. Bishop, showing his tenderness, said, “That’s true, but the real beauty to me is all these marks which our very early children put there.”
The stone school house moved to his estate because a railroad was built crossing Route 82. This school was the only one of its kind in Northfield. It was rather a small school house; it could furnish space for eight to twelve pupils. The building made of stone hewn by hand and laid up with great care. Its windows were equipped with shutters.
The Bacon District School was built in District 4. The school at Snatchpenny, a log house, was built in 1818 or 1819. This was replaced by a frame school in 1854. The frame school was closed in 1918. Later, it was sold and still remains a private residence.
The first log school was built in Macedonia, in 1833, and replaced by a frame building around 1854 to 1860. This was finally sold to the Macedonia Hall Company, around 1880. It was sold, and as a private residence is still standing. It was replaced by the Twin Brick School.
The frame school built in Little York, on Olde Route 8 Road, probably around 1854, and finished in 1856. It was used until 1908, and sold at auction, for $290. It was made into a residence and is still standing, as such.
North School, at Olde 8 Road and Ledge Road, was built about 1854, and the last term taught there was in 1903. It was sold at public auction, in 1916, after standing empty several years. It sold for $400 and used as a private residence.
The Ledge School was built in 1853, on land set aside by Jason Spafford. The school was at the corner of Ledge and Shepard Road, in Macedonia. The last time it was used as a school was in 1892. After standing empty for 25 years, it was put up for sale and sold as a private residence. It was sold several times, once in trade for a team of mules. It is still standing as a private home.
Dell School, on Valley View Road, on the west side and south of the rail road overpass, was a Twinsburg school. It was sold, in 1918, and made into a private home and moved to Macedonia. It stood on the south side of Twinsburg Road, west of the Penn Railroad tracks (now Conrail). Warren Forbes, was the last teacher at that school. As a Twinsburg school, it taught children from Twinsburg, Northfield, Hudson, and Boston Heights, on land that is now Macedonia, but was then Twinsburg. It was moved a quarter of a mile southwest, on Twinsburg Road, and in the 1990’s it was sold to a developer and demolished.
Red Brick Schools
Two “Twin Red Brick” schools were built. The one built in Northfield, at 9279 Olde 8 Road, in 1871. The other, in Macedonia, was built at 9735 Valley View Road, about 1881.
Each of the “twin square brick buildings” had a belfry for the school bell. The interior of each consisted of a large room downstairs and an identical one upstairs. A long hall in the front of each room held the children’s wraps, dinner pails, and the water bucket, which was shared by all. There were no grade separations in these old schools. Instead of advancing to another upper grade, the pupils went from one McGuffey Reader to another. After the fourth book, pupils were moved upstairs. The first floor was usually taught by a lady teacher, “the schoolmarm,” and the upper floor by a man. A steep stairway connected the two floors. It had a broad, smooth banister, which the children secretly used for sliding, despite orders forbidding such pleasures.
In Northfield school in later years, the upper floor was partitioned to provide a High School class room. In time, the lower floor was also divided, and still later, an annex was added on to the building. Northfield had its first High School Commencement in 1894.
Macedonia’s first Commencement was in 1900. Macedonia’s “twin building” was used for basketball practice and for games after 1914. It was torn down in 1918 for a new building.