The History of Lorain High School


Sources:
1995 L.H.S. Scimitar
"Lorain High School 1879-1979 : 100 Years" by the L.H.S. class of 1979
"History of Lorain, Ohio: Chronology/Index" by Lorain Public Library
"Lorain" by George H. Teague
"Our Town -- The Story of Lorain, Ohio"
Lorain Public Library's 1984 Lorain Historical Calendar
1974 L.H.S. Scimitar
Rick Bacon
Ron Luman II
Lori Riegel-Kapalin & Rich Kapalin


Prior to the city of Lorain being named as such, it was named "Black River" in 1807. In 1827, John S. Reid, one of the first elected Lorain County Commissioners, had a cabin built near the lake for use as a schoolhouse. Black River's first school board and school district was organized the same year. In 1853, a two-story frame building (later used as Fire Station #1) was erected adjacent to First Congregational Church, 423 Washington Avenue.

This was the only school within the limits of the town until 1870, when a site at 602 Washington Avenue was purchased for $2000 and a four-room, two-story brick building was completed by Contractor Stanley Griffin at a cost of $15,000. This structure was part of what was known, until 1995, as Lorain High School (now Lorain Middle School). In 1873, the community was officially incorporated with the name "Lorain", and Benjamin F. Bellows became Lorain's first superintendent. He and Miss Kirkbridge constituted the entire teaching force until 1874 when Miss Hannah E. Burkett became the third member of the faculty.

In 1875, Miss Mehitable Ayers was added to the growing list of instructors and Lorain High School was officially established. Superintendent John R. Rogers, an Oberlin College graduate who held his post from 1877-1881 and 1882-1888, established what became the first two-year course of study at the high school. On Friday, June 6th, 1879, at First Congregational Church, the first class of high school graduates received their diplomas. There were two boys and one girl in that class:

Edward J. Bullock
Elvadore R. Fancher
Abigail M. Reid

The program for the graduating exercises consisted of an oration by Mr. Fancher called "Improve Your Chances", an essay by Miss Reid entitled "A Plea for Common People", and an oration by Mr. Bullock called "Shams". The address was given by Professor J.M. Ellis.

Mrs. Loomis McConnaughty was named principal of Lorain High in 1883, and by that time, a third year of study was added to the high school course. That same year, a school board issue to raise $5,500 to build a south wing for the school passed by a vote of 39 to 5. In 1888, a fourth year was included in the curriculum. The class of 1889 was the first to incorporate the custom of having a class color. It was also the first class to announce the commencement exercises by invitation, and the first to have students present the graduation speeches. The class of 1890 added a second color to the one selected by the previous class. In 1894, Lorain High's first year of physical education classes saw them lose all three games in its football schedule. Future Navy Admiral Ernest J. King (the namesake of Admiral King High School) graduated from L.H.S. in 1897.

Beginning in 1900, the curriculum at Lorain High was expanded to include art, penmanship, and music under the supervision of special teachers, and a primary supervisor was also employed. The first edition of Lorain High's newspaper, the Scimitar, was published in November of 1904 with Harvey Grubbs as the editor and Meriam Randall as the assistant editor. It was Grubbs who came up with the name "Scimitar", which eventually became the school yearbook.

In 1908, the Ohio Athletic Association was formed and Lorain High employed its first athletic coach, David Darrow. George Daniel, a 1905 L.H.S. graduate, became Lorain High's second athletic coach in 1910. Although L.H.S. students participated in sports prior to 1911, it was in that year that Daniel was instrumental in forming the "Little Big Four" league, which consisted of Lorain High, Elyria, Sandusky, and Norwalk. The league later expanded to include Fremont, Bellevue, and Oberlin, and the name was changed to the "Little Big Seven". The two-semester system with promotions twice a year was begun, and the first mid-year graduation was held in 1911, the same year that work on the new Lorain High School building was begun. 1912 was the first year that the Lorain High School football team, under coach Daniel, went undefeated, also achieving this feat in 1914 and 1916.

On May 12th, 1916, dedication exercises were held for the first wing of the former high school building. A second wing was added in 1917. These two wings included 92 rooms, a gymnasium, and an auditorium. The Lorain High School Alma Mater lyrics were written by Jesse Hamman from the 1917-B class, and the music was written by Griffith J. Jones. In 1919, The Lorain Board of Education purchased land for a recreation field at the future site of Longfellow Park. Lofton J. Henderson, the man the West 21st Street bridge was named after, graduated from L.H.S. in 1922; also that year, the basketball team won the first Ohio High School Athletic Association Class A title. Lorain High joined the Lake Erie League in 1923, and in its fifth year (1927), the L.H.S. football team went undefeated and became league champions.

The Board of Education finally decided that Longfellow Park's field conditions were not adequate for the district's sports teams, and, on February 24th, 1927, 14 1/2 acres of land on Oberlin Avenue was purchased to be used for a new stadium. In 1931, a stage & gymnasium combination was completed at the high school. In January of 1936, the first Lorain High PTA council was organized. In August of 1937, WPA workers completed the Recreation Field stadium addition. Ground was broken to expand the Industrial Arts department of L.H.S. on October 15th, 1938. The building was completed by the time school started in September of 1939. The L.H.S. football team went undefeated in 1943 and ranked 3rd in the state of Ohio.

Lorain High School held its first outdoor graduation ceremony in 1950. In 1953, the sports teams left the Lake Erie League to join the Buckeye Conference. George Daniel retired from the Lorain city school system in 1958 after 48 years as coach and athletic director. On June 5th of that year, Recreation Field was renamed George Daniel Field in his honor. The mid-year graduations continued at L.H.S. until 1961, when the annual promotion plan was readopted. In 1962, the Board of Education began a program to remodel the school. This was completed in 1964 and consisted of a three unit gym and a new home economics department.

George Daniel became Lorain's athletic director until a few years prior to his death in 1969. As the Steelmen's football coach for 10 years, he had an impressive record of 67 wins, 15 losses and 3 ties. To honor his incredible achievements on behalf of Lorain city sports, Daniel was inducted as the first member of the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame in 1970; that same year, the Scimitar was also dedicated to him.

By September of 1972, a new cafeteria and a two-level media center were constructed. The 1974 Scimitar almost did not exist due to a lack of funds, but the efforts of Peter P. Demyan, science teacher and yearbook advisor, helped make it a reality. Due to the limited budget, the only class pictures were those of the graduating class. By 1979, 100 years after Lorain High's first graduating class, 370 students received their diplomas. In 1995, Lorain High School covered an entire city block with over sixty rooms and 1250 students.

Unfortunately, we regret to inform you that Lorain High School was closed in June of 1995 due to financial problems in the school district. It is now used as a middle school. Students that were still enrolled at Lorain High when it closed were forced to transfer to Admiral King or Southview. George Daniel Field no longer recognizes the fact that the Steelmen ever played there. The class of 1998 was the last class to graduate with a Lorain High School Diploma.

Worst of all, the school is scheduled for demolition in order to replace it with a new building!

Also, a plaque commemorating the existence of Lorain High was erected in the front of the school on the Washington Avenue side by the class of 1995, where it still stands today.


Anyone who has further information on the history of L.H.S.,
or would like to contact us regarding the school's proposed demolition,
please e-mail us at: LorainHigh@aol.com



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