Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Charleston Elementary School Memories Part 1

I happened to be driving by the old Charleston Elementary School building (above) in Lorain recently. For years it's been the administrative offices of the Lorain City Schools, but for me it's the place where I attended kindergarten and spent half of first grade before my family moved.

According to a local history compiled by Lorain Board of Education Member James Smith, Charleston Elementary dates back to 1956. It was named in honor of the former name of the City of Lorain, as well as a previous Charleston School that was destroyed by the 1924 Lorain Tornado. (Also, its location was originally at Charles Street and Pole Avenue; Charles Street is now W. 23rd.)

Even though it's been about 45 years since I attended Charleston, I still have vivid memories.

One thing I remember is how my siblings and I managed to walk to school (which was several blocks away) without getting lost. We did this by following our parents' instructions to "follow the blacktop." Let me explain.

That part of Lorain used to be farmland, and when it was finally developed, the streets were laid out in a very rigid pattern. There were no gentle curves and winding lanes. Practically all of the streets were perpendicular to each other, running north or south. The numbering system of Lorain's west side made them even more generic-looking. (There were cul-de-sacs every so often, but even they looked alike.)

But one good idea that someone had was to create a sidewalk that ran right through the neighborhood towards both Charleston Elementary and Admiral King High School. Thus, if the kids could stay on that sidewalk, it would channel them all the way to Pole Avenue and school. Kind of like following the Yellow Brick Road.

You can see it in the MapQuest aerial photo; it starts at the first 'e' in Meister Road at the bottom of the map and runs straight north. (My family lived on W. 30th Street, approximately 5 houses to the right of the sidewalk.)

Back then in the early 1960's, the sidewalk had been paved with asphalt, making it easy to follow.

Here's the official Brady "first day of school" photo from September 1964. (I wonder if families still do that?)  I'm off to kindergarten, along with my older brother (who was in first grade) and my sister (who was in fifth). It must have been chilly that day!

Like many families back then, my parents only had one car, and Dad took it to work. So if it rained, we walked to school and got wet. Good thing we had those spiffy raincoats!


Click here to visit the "Old Ohio Schools" website that has photos of almost every school in Lorain County, past and present. It includes great archival photos, as well as a status report as to whether the school is still in use, threatened or demolished. The schools are grouped by city, so scroll down to visit your town's places of learning.

Next: Mrs. Ellis' class


Anonymous said...


Thanks for this!! I used that same blacktop to get to Charleston and most of the way to Masson. I remember the Meyers family on 28th street had a plum tree next to the blacktop...and I would stop to munch some on my way to school!!!

Hoy hoy,

Jeff Rash

-Alan D Hopewell said...

We'd walk straight down 21st Street from Leavitt, and turn right at Pole Avenue; there used to be a real tall old man who was the crossing guard there, everyone called him "Lurch", after the butler on "THE ADDAMS FAMILY"....he was cool.

Lisa said...

Hi Dan! As of December 2, 2016, the Charleston Building is officially closed and will be demolished. The Administrative Offices have been moved across the street to 2601 Pole Avenue, a small building outside the Performing Arts building on the SW corner of the new Lorain High School.