Somerville is located between Hamilton and Eaton right on the Butler/Preble County Line. The incorporated village of just over 300 people is completely within Butler County.
I posted a few photos of the exterior of the former Somerville School a few months back, but returned yesterday as my office assigned me to complete an Ohio Historic Inventory form for the building as requested by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. CDBG funding has been secured to abate and demolish the building.
Somerville isn’t the kind of town I’d normally post (I go small, but not this small), but I thought some context was needed for the school.
Somerville National Bank survives…somehow. Until 1989, it was the smallest nationally chartered bank in the United States. Today, SNB has branches in Eaton, Hamilton, Oxford, and Camden.
Where it all started in 1910
commercial building in town
Seven Mile Creek zags just to the west of Somerville; a Norfolk Southern RR Line crosses the creek just above and below Somerville to be able to service the village. I’m not sure if there was ever a depot, though.
The old school overlooks the village
Abandoned for more than a decade, Somerville School was completed in 1916 and used for all 12 grades until 1953 when the district became part of Tallawanda City Schools which includes the City of Oxford, Oxford Township, Milford Township, Reily Township, and parts of Hanover Township and the City of Hamilton, making it one of the largest school districts (geographically) in the state. The school wasn't closed until the early 1980's though.
From this spring (with a bit of snow left and no ivy)
Let’s go inside…(legally of course)
The Auditorium was used as a church in the early 1990's.
I like how this shot came out
The building is infested with pigeons, which means the floors are covered with droppings and dead carcasses.
You’ll notice the pigeon resting on the light fixture. The second floor is almost unbearable because of how many live within the former classrooms. When I came upstairs, they all became scared and started flying about and into closed, not-yet-broken windows. All around (and above) me the pigeons were racing about and making noise, it felt like a bad horror film. I don’t know how seicer does this stuff.
Down in the basement…
As I expected, the building wasn’t heated with a hot water system (boiler/radiators, etc.), the building had a forced air system with tube heaters.
Notice the coal tubes within this chamber
The above chamber was connected to a 'Flean Air Room' that contained a massive blower
What is even more disappointing than the building’s demolition is the fact that CDBG money was used just a few years ago to install a new roof on the building. The village had dreams of creating a community center as has been done with old schools in other Butler County rural towns like nearby Collinsville and Reily. The building below was renovated over several years (with many grants) by Milford Township—the same township in which Somerville is located.
So long Somerville School, so long!