PANDORA — The Bridenbaugh School has been through three calamities since it was renovated in the mid-1990s for public viewing. Only a few years after it was opened there was a major vandalism at the building. Then it was damage in last year’s June windstorm. Then shortly after the repairs were completed, there was a fire at the schoolhouse in January.
Each time the owners made a decision to repair and reopen the one-room schoolhouse. This time is no different. After January's fire they decided to have the schoolhouse fixed and reopened. The grand reopening will be during the Riley Creek Festival on Aug. 9.
Dale Bridenbaugh has always had an interest in history. As he read “The History of One-room School Houses in Putnam County” he became more interested in the building that had always been a part of his family.
The one room schoolhouse was in use from 1889 until 1927. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites on April 28, 2005.
It hasn’t been easy going through the repairs needed each time.
Protective plexiglass on the windows and screens were damaged during the vandalism. Repairs were made and the schoolhouse was reopened.
Until June 29, 2012, Bridenbaugh was able to reply with certainty that the school had stood for 123 years and had never been damaged by weather. That day, 95 mph straight-line winds ravaged the county; the school was not exempt. One-third of the roof and rafters went flying, and the west side brick wall blew into the attic.
The next day, family members of the only privately owned one-room schoolhouse in Ohio gathered to begin the process of cleaning up debris and stacking bricks. Fortunately, there was very little damage to the interior of the school, becaue of the insulation in the attic, which cushioned the impact of the falling bricks.
A local contractor was able to do quick repairs to the roof. Other work took longer, including repairing and replacing the brick wall, and rebuilding the bell tower, stage and repainting the interior wall.
The schoolhouse was again reopened, this time on Dec. 15. It was decorated with Christmas decorations.
Then less than a month later there was a fire at the schoolhouse. On Jan. 10 the school house received significant smoke and water damage from the fire that was mainly in the attic. Insulation from the roof littered the floor.
“We were able to save most of the desks,” Dale Bridenbaugh said. His sister-in-law, Peg Bridenbaugh, said all the curtains and flags had to receive treatment to remove the smoke smell.
Again family members and local contractors worked to restore the one-room schoolhouse. Now it is ready to be reopened.
In 2000, Bridenbaugh received the Ohio Historical Society’s Preservation Merit Award for his preservation and restoration of the schoolhouse.