Where the brick walkway ends at our front door you might find wisdom, joy, passion, understanding or a pathway to new horizons— all this and more in our newly-installed Little Free Library Book-Sharing Box.
The project was fully-funded through the generosity of the Rotary Club of Berea, whose mission is to foster international understanding, good will & peace. The men & women volunteers of our local Berea Chapter provide community engagement opportunities such as this. Their continuing programs include youth scholarships and direct aid & assistance to feed & clothe those less fortunate.
The design of the box replicates that of the Schoolhouse, sans bell tower. It was designed and constructed by Berea Rotary member Jeff Dettmer. Schoolhouse board member Andy Timko is our project chairman. We encourage our community to “Take a book. Share a book”. The Berea Fine Arts Club occupies the Schoolhouse and will soon add Art books to the offering. We will always look for exciting, new ways to educate and engage with our community, even if only one-person-at-a-time.
The Schoolhouse was already a familiar place for Lisa having participated in a variety of activities there over the last 10 or more years as a volunteer, student, patron and Arts’ advocate. She is a lifelong resident of the Berea/Brookpark area, a graduate of Berea High School and lives here with her husband, an artist & teacher, and their son. Her interest in historic preservation and the charm of the schoolhouse and its possibilities were important in her decision. Being a stickler for details, having 29 years experience in medical accounting, and possessing an outside the box approach to things she’s a great fit for us and we’re lucky to have her. Welcome Lisa !
The Bell Tower, or Belfry, of the Berea Little Red Schoolhouse is the premier architectural feature of the building. It had a fresh coat of paint about 1980 and nothing has been done since. After nearly 4 decades of exposure to Berea weather most of the exterior paint was gone, the railings had fallen apart and wood moulding rotted. By the winter of 2018 we had installed new railings, replaced the moulding on the wood pillars, and stripped and repainted the interior of the tower. The hardest part was yet to be done. A sky hook was needed to restore the exterior of the cap roof and base of the tower.
Fundraising and donations have recently allowed us to budget for completing the bell tower. In this final phase bad wood, flashing and caulk were replaced, slate tiles secured or replaced and all exterior wood painted. As the jewel in the building’s crown our vintage schoolhouse bell was secured to the floor of the tower to ring again after nearly a century of silence.
The Berea Chamber of Commerce has announced their 2020 Grindstone Award Recipient. Our long-time Foundation Secretary and retired Board Member, Dave Pusti has been named the 53rd Annual Grindstone Award Winner for outstanding accomplishments in service to the The Berea Community. Dave is a retired Board Member of the School House Foundation. His guidance, support and professional expertise for more than a decade played a vital role in our mission to preserve the building for continued service to the community. We were just a small part of his ambitious volunteer work. He was also involved in local legislative planning, education, Habitat for Humanity, youth sports, civic groups & societies and his church and business community.
The Berea Fine Arts Club, the current occupant of the Schoolhouse building, was also recognized by The Berea Chamber of Commerce this year with “The Rising Star” Award. The first ‘Home’ of the Art Club was the Berea Schoolhouse. That was in 1935. The Club is at home with a bright outlook of newly scheduled art classes, community activities, art shows and demonstrations in their mission to make Art accessible. Keep up the good work.
Our congratulations to Dave Pusti and the Fine Arts Club for their accomplishments and a sincere thank you for all you do.
The front doors of the Schoolhouse have a new artistic glow. Local stain glass artist and Schoolhouse Trustee, Gary Cole, created and installed a large stain glass window above the double entry doors. It is composed of representative artistic icons: books, ABC building blocks and an artist palette with our street address ’323’ to depict the mission of the School House Foundation— Arts & Education.
Gary’s involvement in the Schoolhouse has historic family lineage. John J. Baesel, Gary’s great-uncle and Berea’s 1st Mayor built the District 7 Schoolhouse, completed in 1913. The beautiful window is just the crown finale of the doorway his great-uncle crafted over 100 years ago! It appears that community service continues to run in the family here.
We thank Gary Cole for his generous and profound donation and for his continued support as Restoration Chairman at the Schoolhouse and hope the window’s glow continues to shine as a reminder of our mission for another century or so.
Through generous local grants from the City of Berea and The Berea City Club the Berea Schoolhouse building has received ADA compliance verification after remodeling both of its restrooms and utility room and installing a wheelchair ramp from the parking lot to the entrance.
In 2006 The Berea Little Red School House Foundation began an earnest effect to restore the historic structure. We knew then, that a key element in the success of the project and full utilization of the building would depend on accessibility to all. No little feat for this aged structure with a high elevation. The restrooms were reminiscent of a mid-century roadside Gas Service Station, an embarressment and impediment for a functional community building. All grants and donations received in prior years had addressed countless crisis To-Do’s and necessary occupancy up-grades, overshadowing the ADA priority for way too long. When we were ready, our community stepped up when asked. In addition to these badly needed upgrades, we were also able to repair the wobbly sandstone stairs at two entrances. The stones were reset with new mortar on top of new footers and supports where needed.
Again, we wish to sincerely thank The City of Berea and the Berea City Club for their generous grants. Without them these improvements would likely still be on our wish list. We also wish to thank our noble volunteers and contractors for their donated time, materials and expertise. Thank you all ! And, who will be first to enjoy these new amenities? —the 30 elementary schoolers attending the week-long Annual Summer Art Camp 2018 this month sponsored by The Berea Fine Arts Club. Likely no more comments like “Oooh, YUCK!” or “HOW GROSS!” heard from the restrooms’ foyer this year.
The Buzzards Return to Schoolhouse
The famed Turkey Vulture, or Buzzard, has been a spring visitor at the Berea Schoolhouse for many years. This year is no exception. Their return to the Western Reserve in March and April marks the forecast of warmer temperatures to come. They tend to hang out here for several days soaring and gliding above the building for long stretches then roosting on our bell tower, chimney or nearby trees often six or more at a time. There is nothing cute or regal about these large, bald scavengers, though they are impressive. Welcome back.
The Belfry is part of the signature appearance of the building and is from the original construction of the building. It no longer houses the original school bell, but is still frequented by bats. The structure is still sturdy but the roof and railings need to be replaced, and the structure is in bad need of re-painting. Because of the slate roof on the building, this work would be easiest to properly complete at the same time as the slate roofing is replaced. This summer the railings were replaced and the interior restored and painted. A replacement bell has been obtained and will be installed.
The mission of Berea Little Red School House Foundation is to preserve and restore the Berea District 7 Schoolhouse, an historical site and on the National Register of Historic Places, and to provide a facility in service to the community and perform other civic functions to improve our quality of life with emphasis on education in the arts.
Berea Little Red School House Foundation, Inc.
323 East Bagley Road
P.O. Box 124
Berea, OH 44017