It’s a surprise when you go back to see your old school and find it gone, replaced by a new building. That’s happened to a lot of people who attended Toledo Public Schools in the last few years.
I feel like I have some links to the district since my grandfather was a long-time teacher at Macomber, my father taught at Libbey High School for a while, and me…well, I went to school at Old Orchard School.
Prior to the opening of the old Old Orchard in 1937, there was not much, according to Mrs. A.H. Poll, who recounted the early days of education when the school’s Mother’s Club met to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 1962.
Since there was no school in the area in 1929, a small handful of kindergarteners met in the now non-existent Ottawa Hills Tea House. A year or two later, portable wooden structures with tin roofs were built.
As the heat was furnished by large black coal stoves, the schoolboys took turns shoveling coal. The floor got so cold, Mrs. Poll recalled, that pupils frequently used cigar boxes to prop their feet on, and during especially bitter weather, classes did not meet.
Because there was no gym, students got their exercise practicing in plays which were later presented in the University of Toledo’s Doermann Theater. Finally, through the work of fathers in Parent-Teacher Association and the Board of Education, Mayor Roy Start turned the first spadeful of earth in 1936.
The official dedication was Feb. 23, 1937, and the News-Bee was there, along with 500 locals, Mayor Roy C. Start (who has high school named after him), and beloved crossing guard “Andy” Dugan, who got the biggest hand of all.
This architectural study from 2002 provides some more details about the former Old Orchard. It had two additions: one in 1950, and a second, more significant one in 1955 that nearly doubled the school’s size (the two-story addition on the east side). Alas, the school was not “directly associated with significant events or persons.”
I attended Old Orchard from the fall of 1968 until early 1974 when I moved to the Sylvania City School District and attended the bland, totally white (seriously), totally ’50s Stranahan Elementary. I can conveniently pinpoint the day I started since The Blade was out taking pictures at Old Orchard that day.
The school and neighborhood was a pretty good place to grow up. We’d walk home for lunch, for heaven’s sake. I lived on the short one-way stretch of Aldringham just north of the school grounds, which seemed huge at the time: baseball fields, a concrete pad for basketball, a loud, frightening air-raid siren on top of the kindergarten room (which went off one afternoon when I was standing in front of it while delivering The Blade). The fields would occasionally flood and then freeze, providing a place to play sandlot hockey. Temple B’nai Israel was nearby, Ottawa Park was on the other side of the Toledo Terminal railroad tracks – we were never lacking for things to do as kids.
I would probably be a different person had I stayed and rolled on to DeVilbiss High School, which was what Old Orchard fed at the time.
Here are some additional pictures from June, 2002, taken by me:
Here is a pretty good album on Flickr full of photos I wish I’d taken.
The old building closed after 74 years of service in June 2011, as part of the district’s ten year, $650 million Building For Success program, which closed, remodeled or demolished forty buildings in the district and met with mixed reviews (at least according to The Blade). The new building opened that fall.
Attended there from 1949 until 1955. I played briefly on their wildcats football team. I remember teachers Miss
. Shawaker and Mrs. Urz. I had crushes on both Denise Thorson and Lexy Rutledge. I remember walking to and from school twice a day and never thought any thing of it. I had many childhood friends there both Jewish and gentile and I miss them all. May Got bless all who still survive those wonderful years…I will never forget them. Denny Porter. firstname.lastname@example.org
We lived on Cheltenham and attended Old Orchard from 1948 to 1957. mrs. Gutchess (formerly Shawaker) was my favorite teacher in 7th & 8th grades. Wonderful, happy memories from Toledo, delivering newspapers, riding bikes.
I loved finding these old photos! I lived very near on Cheltenham and attended Old Orchard Elementary from 1962 to 1968. I especially remember teachers Mrs. Lotz, Mrs. Maguire, and Mr. Tovey. . Tuesday night dance class…cheerleading and swinging on the swings behind the school. Loved walking home for lunch each day too. So many fond memories of my classmates!