Rural and Urban Depression Era in the Greater Toledo Area Schools
During the Great Depression Americans all across the United States moved in order to find work, as well as provide better opportunities for themselves and their family. One opportunity was the public education system. Although very different from today's standards, public education provided necessary tools such as mathematics, reading, and writing necessary for Toledo's youth. Not only was the building of these schools necessary for education, but in many cases school construction and renovation projects were part of WPA programs and other Depression-era recovery efforts. It is because of this symbiotic relationship between work and education that many schools in the 1920s and 1930s were either constructed or renovated.
One such building was the Whitmer High School, now Jefferson Junior High which was originally constructed in 1927. Whitmer started out as a small 14 classroom building with a gymnasium, and it was capable of serving up to roughly 400 students. However in 1939 a massive renovation reshaped the school entirely. Possibly because of WPA trickle down effects, Whitmer Highschool became larger and the premier consolidated school in the area for many rural and urban residents. The renovation added an additional 15 classrooms, an auditorium and cafeteria, as well as increasing the capacity of the school’s students from 400 to 800. This doubling in capacity was partly due to an increase in Toledo’s population post-World War II, but also as many families settled after the Great Depression and work became more available, fewer children were working and returned to school instead. This was especially true in rural areas like Sylvania.
Eventually, Whitmer High School would become Jefferson Junior High. This transition occurred because the Whitmer Highschool we know today was built nearby in 1958. The new building far outclassed the former Whitmer High School, with its 82 classrooms and a capacity of 2,200 students. The original Whitmer High School building was repurposed as Jefferson Junior High. The building still stands, and is still used to educate junior high students in the Washington Local School district.
Metamora School was built in the early 1900s, most likely around 1909. Metamora School served as a community staple for the village of Metamora with elements like the amphitheater that could serve as community resources. The school functioned in its original form until the merger of Lyons, Fulton, Chesterfield, and Metamora School districts. Throughout the roughly 60 years of its existence, Metamora School remained a part of the community in many capacities, even serving as a gymnasium and places for community classes later in its lifespan. The building was demolished in 2009. Today, nothing stands on the plot where the school once stood, but that empty lot is full of history.
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