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Society seeks funds to maintain schoolhouse

January 26, 2017
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Poland Historical Society President Larry Baughman asked Poland Township trustees at the Jan. 18 meeting for $5,000 to help operate and maintain the Little Red Schoolhouse, the home of the society.

"We would like to request that amount on an ongoing basis," Baughman said. "That would take care of our annual average fixed budget."

He said for the most part, the $5,000 is an average of the fixed costs. Those costs include utilities, insurance and maintenance, which can fluctuate from year to year.

In addition to the monthly budget, Baughman said the society also spends about $2,000 per year on operation expenses that include meetings, programs, Celebrate Poland, supplies, archival material and other variable maintenance costs.

Baughman asked if there was a way to approve the funds for a five-year period. Both Trustees Joanne Wollet and Eric Ungaro agreed the requested funds needed to be done on an annual basis.

"Because boards change, we just never know about future finances," Ungaro said.

A vote was taken to make the $5,000 donation for 2017, and all three trustees agreed.

Baughman also gave an update on capital projects for the Little Red Schoolhouse. He said the recent major project has been completed, which was the restoration of the windows. The windows, Baughman said, were the original ones from the historic structure.

The Little Red Schoolhouse, 4515 Center Road, is a one-room, red brick schoolhouse built in 1858 in the center of Poland Township. This schoolhouse is owned by the Poland Board of Education and is leased to the historical society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Ohio corporation, for 99 years at an annual fee of $1.

The schoolhouse was used as a school building until 1915. It then served as a church, storage and was used for community events. It eventually fell into disrepair, and the school board was faced with fixing it or selling it.

In 1979, a group of Poland residents formed the historical society to keep and preserve the building. Since that formation, the schoolhouse has undergone a lot of meticulous restoration. On May 31, 1984, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, which meant the window restoration had to follow specific guidelines.

"The National Park Service has preservation guidelines for the restoration of historic buildings, which we followed," Baughman said. "We are required to try and preserve the building to its original material and esthetic appearance. We did not have to replace any windows, but if a window would have been completely rotted and could not be used, then we would have been required to mill new wood that was of a similar type to the original and to the same profile and design as the original. We would not have been able to use vinyl or thermopane windows."

The Little Red Schoolhouse Window Restoration Project was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Ohio History Connection's History Fund. The fund is supported exclusively by voluntary donations of Ohio income tax refunds and designated gifts to the Ohio History Connection.

"We encourage the continued use of the Ohio History Fund tax check-off on the Ohio income tax return method for grant opportunities for preserving our Ohio history," Baughman said.

The society is now looking a the next big capital improvement project, which is to install a dehumidifier to help preserve the building and artifacts contained inside.

"When our furnace or heat pump is running, our indoor humidy is at 50 to 65 percent," Baughman said. "Recommended humidity for proper storage of artifacts and documents is closer to 40 percent. Also, there is significant condensation on our windows, which is detrimental to our newly restored windows. In November, our old furnace had a cracked heat exchanger and required to be replaced. All three contractors that quoted for a new furnace recommended that we needed to reduce and control our humidity."

Another preservation issue is sunlight, Baughman said, and the society is considering a window tint, but a lot of the panes contain original wavy glass.

The next meeting of the Poland Historical Society will be 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Little Red Schoolhouse. The topic for the evening is a talk on the history of William Holmes McGuffey, presented by Regina Rees.



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