Because You Asked . . . .    

Galena School as Built in 1867 


History of the Galena School Building

Early Galena children attended school on the first floor of the Masonic Hall.  Later Galena’s first school building was a log cabin near the present Galena school.  Doris Bricker, author of "Welcome to the Village of Galena, Ohio," wrote that this cabin was built before Zoar was founded in 1816.  In addition to a school, it was used as a  church. When this building was removed to build the present Galena school, a prehistoric mound was discovered beneath it.

In 1867, part of the present Galena building was built. It is described in the 1880 History of Delaware County as: "The building in the special district of Galena is situated near the square on a dry knoll which commands a fine prospect of the Big Walnut Creek and the range of hills beyond. It is a square, surmounted by a cupola. There are three departments with a principal and two assistants who receive $70 and $30 per month respectively. The latest enumeration shows 145 persons eligible for school privileges. The enrollment reached 125 with average attendance of 110." I. C. Guinther was the first superintendent.

Postcards from early 1900's show a major addition doubling the size of the building which is now rectangular in shape.  More renovation to the building was done in 1920. After consolidation, the building underwent major remodeling.  During the 1950's a locker room, cafeteria, and additional classrooms were added. In 1951 the unstable cupola was removed.

Beginning in 1905, Galena school flourished as a preparatory school under the leadership of Superintendent Ira Gregory and then G. M. Plumb. At that time there was a state law saying townships had to pay tuition for students passing what was known as the Boxwell Test to go to a high school, if that township had no high school. Since Galena had an excellent program, students came from all over the county and boarded in different homes while they completed their courses.

According to Bricker, the first graduating class is listed as 1886, probably the time the school became graded.  She lists all 540 graduates in her booklet.  The most famous student of the school was Governor Frank B. Willis, who did not graduate from Galena.  He served as Governor of Ohio and a United States Senator before suffering a fatal heart attack in the wings of Gray Chapel at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.  At the time of his death, he was being prominently mentioned as the possible candidate for Vice President of the United States.  A memorial marker was placed in front of the school as part of the 1966 Galena Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Following consolidation in 1950, all high school students went to the Big Walnut High School in the old Sunbury High School Building. All 8th graders, some fifth and sixth grade students from Sunbury joined Galena’s 1st thru 8th grades. The following year the Big Walnut High school was built on Baughman Street and housed 8th thru 12th grades.

In 1952 Sunbury 8th went to Galena for one year. Galena continued to school grades 1 thru 8 until 1962. Beginning in 1961, Harlem’s 7th and 8th went to Galena. In 1962 Galena held grades 1 thru 3 and 6 thru 8. 4th and 5th went to Sunbury and Harlem. The following year this building held 1st thru 4th, and 7th and 8th with the 5th and 6th at Harlem.

For two years beginning in 1966, 7th thru 9th were with the high school and all the elementary schools housed 1st thru 6th. Following the building of the Middle School in 1968, Galena held grades 1 thru 4 until 1972 when the 5th grades moved back to the elementary schools.

The five grades were in the building until 1978 when the building became Big Walnut 6th Grade. When it was no longer used for 6th graders it was renovated in 1991 and now houses the administration offices for Big Walnut Local Schools. 

Thanks to Baskin's "1880 History of Delaware County, Ohio" and to Doris Fuller Bricker's booklet for these facts.  Both are available at Community Library. 

Thanks also to Eldon Chambers who provided many pictures of the school from Helen Campbell's Slide Collection. 

Time marches on the the Big Walnut School Board chose to build new buildings and let the older ones go.  The first to go on the block was this building on April 3, 2013.  Follow the story.

Photos from Galena School:

School-31-600.JPG (87982 bytes) Class-1887-600.JPG (89978 bytes) School30-600.JPG (101931 bytes) School-32-600.JPG (89825 bytes)
1867 School * Class of 1887 * * 1892 Commencement
Class-37.JPG (610960 bytes) School-33.JPG (466034 bytes)    
1897*   1898 Commencement        
School-34.JPG (537125 bytes)
School-36.JPG (416314 bytes)
School-38.JPG (952300 bytes)

Circa1900-600.JPG (82040 bytes)
School-35-1900.JPG (623910 bytes) School-45.JPG (617865 bytes)
Classroom* Students on Fire Escapes* Circa 1900 *
  Basketball-40-1925-26.JPG (489366 bytes) Basket-girls-41.JPG (432160 bytes) Basketb-42.JPG (642327 bytes)


April 1923
 Girls' Basketball*


7th and 8th
Year unknown
Howard Roof.
Year Unknown,
Howard Roof Teacher
All Students in Galena School 1923
Baseball-44.JPG (355837 bytes) Classof1928.JPG (452917 bytes)
Baseball*  Alums from 1928 Alumni Banquet 1943 Basketball 1946 1948
Big Walnut Local Schools
School-46.JPG (582545 bytes)
  1950 circa 1950* 1957 Elementary
Gal-Bell1-600.JPG (110618 bytes)   mon3-600.JPG (145021 bytes) GalSchool2003-600.JPG (85710 bytes)   
1996 Bell in Park, 2003 Willis Monument
2003 photo by Janet MacKenzie   
* from Helen Campbell's Slides of Galena - If you know more about the photos Tell Me

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(07/08/2014 )

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