Chagrin Falls has always been known for the excellence of its teachers and schools. The quality of our schools is often given as the top reason people desire to move to this wonderful community. You can visit the official Chagrin Falls school website at: http://www.chagrin-falls.k12.oh.us/
Listed below is a short history of the different school buildings that have been in Chagrin Falls. Tom Mattern has written an excellent history of the Chagrin Falls School area and his book can be found at: http://chagrinalumni.org/history It is also available at Fireside Book Store in Chagrin Falls.
Chronology of Chagrin Falls Schools
1834 – One room schoolhouses emerged throughout the village
These are drawings of the schools by local artist Henry Church, Jr.. These are the only known images we have of the early schools, they are part of our collection. There were a number of one room school houses all over the Chagrin Falls area. Sites included Washington Street, Maple Street, North Street by High Street, Orange Street and Main Street.
1842/1843 – The Asbury Seminary School
This school was located on Philomethian Street. Chagrin Falls has had a school on Philomethian Street continuously since 1843. This school was privately owned, but conducted under the interest of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It was purchased by the board of education (established in 1849) in 1858 as they consolidated the many one-room schools into a Union School. Hugh Christian was the first person to receive a Chagrin Falls High School diploma in 1879. He was the only person in his class. This school stood on this site until 1893 when it was sold as salvage. A bell was added to the Belfry in 1852. This bell was moved to the 1885 school when it was constructed. The bell was removed when the 1885 school was demolished in 1940 and was put in the boiler room of the 1940 Philomethian addition. This bell became the victory bell at the High School from 1965 until it was stolen in 1970.
1885/1886 – The brick Philomethian Street School was built
Also known as the Chagrin Falls Union School. In the image below of the 1885 School Building, Asbury Seminary can be seen lower left corner on Philomethian Street.
This school housed K-12 grades. It remained on this site until torn down in 1940. A 750 seat auditorium and additional class rooms were built in 1892. In 1909, a separate wood frame two classroom building was constructed for 1st and 2nd grades. A gymnasium was added to this school in 1923 for use by the new 1914 high school building on the same campus. In 1930 a separate wood frame cafeteria and home economics building was built on the north side of the Philomethian campus near Federated Church.
1914 – The brick high school building
This building celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014 and is still in use today. In 1940, a large addition was built that consisted of space for an elementary school, library, auditorium, gymnasium, cafeteria and industrial arts wing. When completed, the 1885 brick school was torn down as well as the wood frame 1st and 2nd building. The wood cafeteria and home economics building was sold for scrap in 1946. A third floor was added above the cafeteria in 1952. The library was expanded in 1971. Renovations to the building were done in 1972. Major renovations occurred in 1989. This school was renamed the Chagrin Falls Intermediate School in 1999 and now houses 4th and 5th grades. At that time additional renovations occurred. The boilers were replaced in 2003.
1957 – The Lewis Sands Elementary School
The Lewis Sands Elementary school was the first school on the current High School campus. It was named after Lewis Sands, who was the principal of Chagrin Falls from 1927-1934 and then Superintendent of the Chagrin Falls Schools for 24 years (1934-1958). The Chagrin Falls School Board first considered the need of a new school building in September of 1954. The Board engaged a team of specialists from Kent State University to make a study of population and population growth in the school district. From this study the experts recommended that an Elementary School be built. The public voted in favor of a bond issue in 1955 to finance construction. Many in the town still felt that a High School was more in need than the Elementary School. As a result, the matter was studied during 1955-56 and it was concluded that the Elementary School should be built first. Ground was broken in 1956. Much of this building was torn down to make room for the current Middle School, but parts of it still remain.
In 1961, a separate ‘Little Red Schoolhouse” was built next to this school and was connected by an open walkway. This building housed the 2nd grade.
The buildings were connected in 1971 and some additional classrooms were added. The building was designed to allow for an open classroom approach with team teaching. Over time, they found that this approach was too noisy and the one room was divided into 2 separate rooms. Renovations were made in 1989. This addition was torn down during the construction of the existing Middle School.
1959 – The current High School was built.
The current high school was built in 1959. The class of 1960 was the first to graduate from here. In 1961 the current gymnasium was built and is now named after Ralph Quesinberry, a longtime coach and teacher at Chagrin. The current cafeteria was also built in 1961 and was originally a language arts building. The current library and the industrial arts wing were added to the high school in 1965. New classrooms and a separate music building were added in 1968. The science labs were upgraded in 1989. Four new classrooms were added in 1999.
1966 – Gurney School completed
Gurney Elementary school was constructed in 1966. It is named after Ted Gurney. Mr. Gurney began teaching mathematics and physical education at Chagrin Falls in 1926. He was also the head football and basketball coach. He became principal in 1935, replacing Lewis Sands. He was principal from 1935 to 1966 when he retired after 40 years of dedicated service to the school system.
The school originally housed 1st-4th grade students from South Russell. 1st-4th grade students from Chagrin Falls continued to attend Lewis Sands Elementary. Additional classrooms were added in 1968. More classrooms were added in 1972. The school was closed in 1983 due to declining enrollment. It was reopened in 1988 and major renovations were made to the school. In 1998, additions and renovations occurred and a new classroom wing and gymnasium were built.
1998/1999 – Chagrin Falls Middle School completed
The current Chagrin Falls Middle School was constructed in 1999. The Lewis Sands Elementary school was demolished to make room for this school. The multipurpose room, Board of education area and some other parts of the Lewis Sands School remained in the newer building. This school contains 7th and 8th grades. It has its own gymnasium and is connected to the High School.