EDISON — A demolition backhoe took the first bite out of the historic Edison School building just after 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Russ James, of Russ James Contracting Co. of Zanesville, anticipates that the building should be completely down in the next few days.
Edison residents and alumni drifted by to watch all morning as walls came down and bricks collected in a large pile around the base of the building.
“It’s just sad,” said Edison Village Council Member Patti Feustal as she watched the walls and ceiling crumble on the gym. “I just had to come over when I heard they started (the demolition.)”
Feustal attended first, fourth and seventh grades at the school and her children also attended several grades there.
Twila McClaren Gist is an Edison resident who attended Edison School from the third grade until graduating from high school in 1949.
“I got a lump in my throat when I heard it was being torn down,” said Gist. Her father, John McClaren, also attended the school and was custodian there for about eight years.
“In a small school you’re really close,” said Gist, who said there were just 13 in her high school class.
Marjorie Graham was in Gist’s class and recounted many memories of the school. Her husband, Don Graham, owned the Sohio gas station across from the school for many years.
Don also graduated from Edison and his father was both a teacher and Superintendent at the school. Don recalled that during the war years from 1942-1946 his father taught a class in every period as well as being superintendent, coaching the basketball team and driving the bus. He gave some boys a ride to make sure they got home from practice at night.
The Grahams said one of their best memories was the senior class trip. Seniors piled into several cars for many years to take the trip to Washington, D.C.
Edison Quick Stop owner Monica Collins said that the majority of her customers say it is “sad” to see Edison School be torn down. Most who come in have shared stories and memories of the school.
She has been given several pieces of memorabilia which the workers found as they prepared the building for demolition. There is an old nickel, gum and candy wrappers and a label from Riverside Dairy in Cardington. She plans to put them in a store display.
Several recalled favorite teachers. Gary Kehrwecker attended the school from sixth through eighth grade and remembers Mabel Wells Burns fondly.
“Mrs. Burns was a heck of a teacher,” recalls Kehrwecker. “She pushed ya, and you learned from her.”
Marjorie Graham remembered Stella Gruber, who taught first grade many years. She also recalled that Jim Osborn’s mother was a great cook for the school who made the best shepherd’s pie.
An article written by Stark Beard for the Marion Star, details some of the history of the school at Edison. He went back to 1823 when the first building was made of log construction. The second building, built in 1824-1825, was also made of logs.
Two frame buildings were built on the east side of County Road 9 between 1825 and 1862. The Edison School brick building was started on Aug. 10, 1882, with $6,000 in bonds sold for its construction. It opened in December 1882 with 50 students.
A front addition was built in 1916 because of an increase in the number of students. A bond issue was passed to erect a new building with a gym, lab and shop in 1931. The last addition with the gym was completed in 1932 at a cost of $32,500.
Mount Gilead Schools Superintendent Jeff Thompson said bricks will be made available on a Community Brick Pile near the demolition site and outside the orange construction fence.