The Monitor School, located in Coal Grove, Ohio, was constructed in 1905 and has been closed since 1984 when new facilities were constructed outside of town. The building was envisioned as a community and retirement center but was never restored due to neighborhood opposition.
Named after the Monitor Pig Iron Furnace, Monitor School was constructed in 1905 (2) and served as a replacement to the “Little Red School,” a four-room facility constructed earlier in 1857.(6) In the spring of 1905, the “Little Red School” was destroyed by fire, and was replaced with the tri-level Monitor School by that summer. It featured 16-inch thick masonry walls and 11,000 sq. ft, and housed grades one through ten.(6)
In 1911, two rooms were added to the school due to increasing enrollment.(6) Due to overcrowding, the new Dawson-Bryant Intermediate School opened on January 5, 1925, named after Homer Dawson and curtis Bryant, who were the first from the city to lose their lives in World War I. It housed grades four through eight.
In 1930, a bond issue was passed to expand the Dawson-Bryant Intermediate School.(6) The expansion, which added twelve new classrooms and a large gymnasium, was dedicated on September 25, 1931. The high school was transferred from the Monitor building in September 1932.(6)
On January 29, 1940, a large fire caused $50,000 in damage to the interior of the school, which required extensive structural restoration. A monument dedicated to World War II veterans was dedicated in front of the school in 1943.(2)(6)
On May 25, 1951, a bond levy was issued to construct a new high school.(6) Completed in April 1954, the new structure housed high school while the older Dawson-Bryant structure became an intermediate school. The Monitor School became an elemetary, housing Kingergarten through third grade.
In 1960, a gymnasium and auditorium was constructed to the high school, and four classrooms were added to the intermediate school.(6) In 1989, the Monitor School closed.(2)
On March 28, 2000, the Monitor Planning Board Committee met to discuss potential reuse for the former school.(1) Numerous ideas were raised for the two-story school, including a daycare center, a senior citizens’ facility, a local history museum or an after-school tutoring program, although funding was raised as a potential concern. As a result of the financial issues, no action was taken on the property.
In August 2002, discussions began anew with the possible conversion of the school into apartments.(2) Tom Brammer, a local resident and owner of Brammer Development Incorporated, purchased the school in March at a public auction for $25,000 from the School Board. His original intention was to demolish the school in favor of new houses on the 1.5-acre lot, but after examining the underlying structure of the building and noting the success of the Marting Hotel restoration project in neighboring Ironton, he approached the CAO about restoring the property instead. Preliminary environmental assessments were overall good, with lower levels of lead-based paint than originally anticipated.(3)
The project that Brammer envisioned would include partnering with the Lawrence County Historical Society, the Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the state of Ohio in restoring the school to its near-original condition and to facilitate an addition that would replicate the building’s original characteristics.(2) The proposal included 20 total apartment units, 11 within the original building and nine new structures on the 1.5-acre lot. The former school and the new structures would be handicapped accessible.(3) It would also include a community room,(2) 40 parking spaces, and a playground. It would have a total cost of $1.6 million.(3)
Funding would come from a low-interest loan with the Housing Development Assistance Program through the Ohio Department of Development with a deadline of October 7.(2)(3) The architectural firm was D. W. Weatherby & Associates AIA, of Gahanna, Ohio. RLJ Management Company Inc., also of Gahanna, Ohio, would have managed the complex for at least two years. A preliminary market analysis showed that there was a need for an additional 45 rental units in Coal Grove.
In October, more than 60 nearby residents petitioned against the redevelopment plans, concerned that the complex would negatively affect the neighborhood and adjoining property values.(4) Many residents were worried about the development catering to Section-8 vouchers and low-income residents, although Brammer replied that it was not a public housing project. On November 7, the village of Coal Grove’s city council voted 4-3 against a resolution of support for the project.(5) Those who voted against it cited the resident petitions, although some would have supported it if it was a housing development for senior citizens. Although the vote did not affect the status of the project, no work was completed on the former school property.
- Scott, Melissa. “Residents set sights on saving elementary.” Ironton Tribune 29 March 2000. 19 Dec. 2007 Article.
- Caldwell, Michael. “Rebirth of Monitor School in the works for Coal Grove.” Ironton Tribune 22 Aug. 2002. 19 Dec. 2007 Article.
- Caldwell, Michael. “Project to restore Monitor School progressing.” Ironton Tribune 22 Sept. 2002. 19 Dec. 2007 Article.
- Caldwell, Michael. “Not all welcome Monitor School apartments.” Ironton Tribune 18 Oct. 2002. 19 Dec. 2007 Article.
- Caldwell, Michael. “Village will not support Monitor project.” Ironton Tribune 9 Nov. 2002. 19 Dec. 2007 Article.
- Markel, Juanita. Our First 100 Years, Shine in ’89. N.p.: n.p., 1989.