History Series: Miner High School 1918-1939
by Linda Dillman
Hamilton Township Alumni Association
Three buildings predate the present Hamilton Township High School and include the 1894 Lockbourne structure, the 1939/1962 school razed to make way for the current Rathmell Road complex, and the 1918 Miner High School located near the intersection of Rohr and Bixby Roads.
When the school in Lockbourne became too crowded—sometime around 1915—the board of education decided to construct a larger facility near the center of the township and four acres of land were purchased from Clara Hann for the building. The Rohr Road site abutted tracks owned by the Chesapeake and Hocking Railroad (later the Chesapeake and Ohio) and the Scioto Valley Traction Company (an interurban system).
The electrified interurban railway was a convenient method to transport students from Obetz and Lockbourne to the new high school, which was named after a nearby Scioto Valley Interurban Power Station located in Reese and named for the Miner family.
Construction on the school began in 1916. The Class of 1918 (Marie Davy, Edna Nelp, Edith Spangler, Esther O’Harra, Gladys McDaniel, Blanche Miller and Franklin Wood) hoped to start their senior year in the new building, but it was not completed in time and they remained at Lockbourne for half of the school year.
Three teachers, including the principal, instructed the first 42 high school students. World War I was raging in Europe and the students did their part to support stateside efforts by selling thrift stamps. The Spanish Flu was a worldwide pandemic from 1918-1919 and the Ohio State Board of Health temporarily closed all schools on Oct. 11, 1918. The following September, 30 students were enrolled at the high school level. The 1919 graduating class consisted of only five male students—Lawrence Dill, William Hunter, Alvin Peters, Roland Vaughn and Olin Young.
However, within 10 years enrollment reached 100 students. The school fielded both men’s and women’s basketball teams, had large home economics and vocational programs, held theatrical presentations and provided instruction in the classics and foreign language. Older graduates recall attending Miner High School by way of a hand cart on the railroad tracks. The Scioto Valley Traction Company and the Ohio Southern Traction Company were paid to transport students to and from school, in addition to bus drivers employed by the district.
In 1926, the board met to consider a proposition by the Chesapeake and Hocking Railway to pay $600 for the right-of-way for a road through the high school grounds. The offer was rejected. Three years later, after counter offers and much negotiating, the board settled with the railway for $9,725 in exchange for giving the company the right to erect an overhead crossing directly in front of the school grounds, providing the company acquire for the board one acre to the west and two acres to the south of the grounds.
Two months later, the railway accepted an offer by the board to pay the district $10,225 for a small strip of land on the north side of the school grounds. Problems ensued and in May 1929, the school board deposited $15,000 into their bank account due to damages from the Chesapeake and Hocking Railway Company. Two acres of land were then purchased from Henry Hahn on the west and south sides of the school grounds for $850 per acre.
Growing pains again ensued and in April 1930, the board met to select a site for a new junior and senior high where the District No. 8 building was located at the corner of Lockbourne and Worthington (later Rathmell) Roads and to option the purchase of six or more acres from Albert Herr. Seven years later, board members moved ahead with plans to build a new high school.
Despite owning enough land for expansion, the Miner building itself was deemed unsatisfactory because of its “poor” planning—the addition of another structure was difficult since the main building was not fireproof, the cost for an addition would be almost as great as that of erecting a new building and the proximity to the railroad track and overhead bridge was a deterrent.
A bond issue was passed in 1938 signaling the end of the 1918 high school and the beginning of a new, state-of-the-art structure. The old District No. 8 building at Lockbourne and Rathmell Roads was used as a construction office for the new high school, which opened in 1939 before being razed in 2009.
The old Miner High School was sold at auction on June 17, 1942 for $5,100 but the contract was later disputed and the owner sued to recover his deposit. On Sept. 4, 1943 the school board accepted a bid from Frank Cluff for $3,150 for the building. The Cluff family extensively renovated the former high school and converted it into apartments. It continues to serve as private residences while retaining the architectural features of its former life.