PANDORA — Bridenbaugh One-Room School House in Pandora received a historical marker plaque from Ohio History Connection during a ceremony Friday.
One-room schools were commonly named for people who furnished land for the building. Michael Bridenbaugh, who settled in Riley Township in 1835, donated a half-acre of land to the Riley Township school board in 1873. He was a Putnam County Commissioner, a township trustee and school board member for the one-room schoolhouse that is at 14022 Road 6 north of Pandora at the intersection of Roads 6 and M-6.
The first school in District 3 Riley Township on the site was a wooden structure built-in 1878. It was replaced by the brick building in 1889. The school operated until 1927, after which the district was consolidated and students attended classes in nearby Pandora. In 1927, the school closed and consolidated to Pandora.
Dale Bridenbaugh owns the one-room schoolhouse and is responsible for the school’s restoration. He said his great-grandfather’s son John bought back the schoolhouse after it closed and in 1995 restoration on the schoolhouse began that took two years to complete. Dale’s father Warren and his four uncles all attended the one-room school.
“We live in a changing world and it is good for people to be able to go back and see what a one-room school was like,” Dale Bridenbaugh said. The schoolhouse has a chalkboard, old baseball mitts, lunch pails, a pump organ, school bell and 40 wooden school desks that Dale purchased from Amish schools.
“It is an honor to be recognized. There were windows broke out that were replaced and we kept the original floor,” Dale Bridenbaugh said.
On Aug. 5, 1997, the school re-opened for a reunion with 11 former students attending and the last teacher, Mildred George, who attended. In 2000 the school received the Ohio Historic Preservation Merit Award from the Ohio Historical Society. In 2004 it was nominated by the Ohio Historical Society to the National Registry and in 2005 was placed on the National Registry.
A fire occurred at the schoolhouse in 2014 that was started by a wood-burning stove that is in the school.
Andrew Verhoff, former Ottawa resident and team lead Local History Services, Ohio History Connection, attended Friday’s ceremony to help unveil the historical marker plaque. Ohio History Connection is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization chartered in 1885 whose mission is to preserve and share the state’s history.
Rose Verhoff, Andrew’s mother and Putnam County historian, filled out the application for the schoolhouse to receive the historical plaque.
Dale Bridenbaugh applied for the marker in 2018 and there were 64 marker applications that year.
“This application stood out because Ohio History Connection wanted to honor the restoration of this school because a lot of these buildings don’t exist anymore,” Andrew Verhoff said. The historical marker is the sixth in Putnam County with markers also located at Our Lord’s Park in Ottawa, Columbus Grove Pool, Ottawa Waterworks Park, a marker in Kalida for painter Emerson Burkhart and a marker in Miller City for the 1950 boys state basketball champions nicknamed the Cinderella Kids. There are over 1,750 historical markers in Ohio, according to Andrew Verhoff.
During the ceremony, Dale Bridenbaugh’s great-grandchildren wore school dresses from the 1800s and led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance as Susan Short, Dale’s daughter, held a flag. Gary Bridenbaugh, Dale’s son, read a reading called “Do You Have a Little Red Schoolhouse Safe In Your Memory?”
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.