Constructed originally in the late-19th century, the Utica, Indiana School was rebuilt during the Great Depression and used until the start of the 21st century.
The First District School was constructed in 1873 and rebuilt in 1936 with funding allotted by President Roosevelt.(1)
In 1997, the Greater Clark school district voted to replace the seven-classroom school with a new facility, stating that the Utica school was the oldest and smallest in the district.(2)(3) Teachers were often doubled in some classrooms due to a lack of teaching space, and some functions of the school featured duel purposes; the gymnasium doubled as the music hall while the library doubled as an art room. On August 17, 2000, the new $6.9 million, 62,000 sq. ft. Utica school opened, serving 180 students in pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade classes, although it was designed for 400 students. A formal dedication ceremony and an open house were held on November 28.(4)
The school’s mascot was the Utica Bombers, a reference to an adjoining ammunitions factory, although this was changed to the Utica Jets upon the relocation.(1)
Under Indiana state law, the school board was forced to return the building to the township because it was originally a township school.(5) As a result of the increased responsibilities, the township and the town of Utica agreed to share responsibility for the building.
Upon the first inspection of the school by the township and the town in the summer of 2002, Utica Town Council President Glenn Murphy Sr. was “devastated” regarding the condition of the building.(5) Garbage littered the gymnasium, and pieces of the building’s heating system was removed. Water remained in the flush toilets and appliances in the kitchen were removed.
Early visions of the school included a civic center, a library, a yough basketball league, a food pantry, a senior center and a day care.(5)
On January 25, 2006, approximately 60 people attended a meeting in the former Utica school to show support and initiate discussion for preservation of the historic building. $1,925 was collected in the meeting in an effort to get the building back in shape and reopened to the community, although monthly utility bills total $1,500 just to operate the gymnasium and a few other rooms. Approximately $4,000 was spent replacing boiler parts, and additional funds were being secured to add kitchen appliances which were all but sold and removed when the school relocated.(5)
- Harold, Adams. “Town offers memories, support for old school.” Courier-Journal (Louisville) 26 Jan. 2003, Indiana ed.: 1B.
- Lee, Uy Grace. “New Utica school has growing room.” Courier-Journal (Louisville) 16 Aug. 2000, Indiana ed.: 2B.
- Dale, Moss. “Utica school has big challenge.” Courier-Journal (Louisville) 11 Jan. 1999, Indiana ed.: 1B.
- Lee, Uy Grace. “UTICA; Students explore their new school building.” Courier-Journal (Louisville) 29 Nov. 2000, Indiana ed.: 2B.
- Meghan, Hoyer. “Utica dreams big for old school, but funding for makeover is scarce.” Courier-Journal (Louisville) 23 Nov. 2002, Indiana ed.: 1B.