Filed Under Education

Superior Schoolhouse

Today, the Superior Schoolhouse is a property of the City of Cleveland Heights that serves as a repository for archival collections and a venue for educational programs relating to the city's history.

However, the story of the schoolhouse goes back much further than that of Cleveland Heights. In 1859, a portion of the land in present-day Cleveland Heights fell within the boundaries of the rural township of East Cleveland. That year, East Cleveland's Board of Education purchased 0.84 acres from the Clark family for $72 for the purpose of building a school. East Cleveland District 9 School, a one-story brick building, opened soon after. Some have suggested that, in 1882, this structure was demolished and replaced with a new schoolhouse constructed of sandstone from a local quarry. Others surmise that the original brick schoolhouse was merely faced with sandstone, and that the structure standing today is indeed the original school, built around 1859.

The area surrounding the Superior Schoolhouse grew more populous in the second half of the 19th-century. As Cleveland became an industrial metropolis in the decades after the Civil War, the city's wealthier residents began moving away from its smoky, crowded center. Neighborhoods east and west of downtown grew, as did the areas that would later become Cleveland's suburbs. In Cleveland Heights, farmland began giving way to planned residential developments by the 1890s. The extension of streetcar lines up into the Heights around the same time spurred this process along.

In 1901, Cleveland Heights was designated a hamlet, and its newly formed Board of Education took control of the East Cleveland District 9 Schoolhouse. Thus the building became Cleveland Heights's first place of education. Cleveland Heights incorporated as a village in 1903, at which point it had a population of around 1,500. As it continued to grow, the city built more and larger schools and the Superior Schoolhouse soon became obsolete. Regular classes were last held there in 1924. The Board of Education then used the schoolhouse as its headquarters for a few years. The building sat unused for much of the 1930s and 1940s. It was used to hold classes for special needs students from 1947 until 1964.

The school became the first Cleveland Heights Landmark in 1974 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 1997, Cleveland Heights voters passed a bond issue that provided funding for the building's renovation and rehabilitation, preserving the original look of the historic schoolhouse while creating a practical space for the Cleveland Heights Historical Society and a pleasant point of interest for area residents and visitors.

Images

Landmark Ceremony, 1974 The Superior Schoolhouse became the first official Cleveland Heights Landmark in 1974. Since 1973, when Cleveland Heights City Council created a Landmark Commission to help preserve and promote the city's historic places, nearly 50 buildings have been designated landmarks by the city. The Superior Schoolhouse was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Fairmount Methodist Episcopal Church Cleveland Heights's very first house of worship, Fairmount Methodist Episcopal Church (now Church of the Saviour), was erected just southeast of the Superior Schoolhouse in 1875. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Class Photo, 1891 This is a class photograph from 1891, with Superior Schoolhouse (then a one-story building) in the background. At this time, the hamlet of Cleveland Heights did not yet exist, so the school was still officially known as East Cleveland District 9 School. Parts of present-day Cleveland Heights were then located in East Cleveland Township. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Class Photo, Circa 1894 In this photograph, students are lined up in front of the north side of the Superior Schoolhouse around 1894. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Entrance, Circa 1895 Students and their teacher pose in front of the entrance to the Superior Schoolhouse, circa 1895. The wood-framed entryway was later removed from the front of the building. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
First Grade, Circa 1917 The Cleveland Heights Board of Education took control of East Cleveland's District 9 Schoolhouse when Cleveland Heights became a hamlet in 1901. It is surmised that this photograph, circa 1917, was taken in a temporary building attached to the rear of the original schoolhouse. Cleveland Heights's growing population necessitated such additions to the Superior Schoolhouse around this time. In 1924, the district transferred all the students at Superior to newer schools, and the school became home to the Board of Education for a short period of time. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Postcard, 1977 Old and new blend as a modern streetlight and electrical pole stand in front of the 19th-century Superior Schoolhouse in this postcard from 1977. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
"The Final Bell," 1964 Teacher Charlotte Ackerman rings the school bell in 1964, the last year that classes were held at Superior Schoolhouse. After sitting idle for most of the 1930s and 1940s, the old school held classes for special needs students from 1947-1964. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Renovation, 1999 The interior of the Superior Schoolhouse is shown before extensive renovations and rehabilitation were completed in 2000. Funds from a voter-approved bond issue converted the largely abandoned building into the home of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society. Designers added modern amenities to the building while carefully preserving its original features and restoring its original appearance. Image courtesy of Cleveland Heights Historical Society

Location

Metadata

Michael Rotman, “Superior Schoolhouse,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 9, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/204.