Thanks to the work of a group of alumni of Canal Winchester High School, Canal Winchester Schools have a historical marker to honor its most storied building.
The marker, sanctioned by the Ohio Historic Marker Program, was unveiled in a ceremony on September 24 to commemorate what was once the Winchester Canal School at 100 Washington St. It now serves as an education center of the district and branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Canal Winchester Superintendent Jim Sotlar and Canal Winchester High School Principal Amy Warren were among those who spoke at the commemoration.
The building was constructed in 1862 and served as a school until 2007. According to Marker, it was originally a four-room building and its first class graduated in 1888.
Having a historical marker erected and sanctioned was a project undertaken by a group of eight senior citizens from Canal Winchester High School in 2017-18 as part of an academic review class supervised by social studies professor Todd Sautters and English teacher Seth Bixler.
Those who worked on the project are Caleb Anderson, Josiah “Trey” Brown, Reid Chapman, Silas Crase, Logan Crist, Nicholas Duncan, Brandi Gidley and Bailey Sumner.
According to Crase, the most rewarding part of the project was immersing yourself in the story.
“There are old photos of old graduating classes hanging in the hallways, and we actually saw a photo of the father of one of our group members (in the old school building),” did he declare. âThe place has a charm and, even with the changes made over the years, it feels like a little bit of time stuck in there. We were also glad we got the marker. We considered this to be a long plan for the state to carry out our submission. “
âIt’s not an easy process (to have a marker erected),â said Ben Anthony of the Ohio History Connection at 800 E. 17th Ave, Columbus. “All of the text on this marker and what they remember here is to be backed up by primary sources.”
âThe hardest part was going through all the information we got about the building,â said Sumner, now a senior at Ohio State. âWe had a ton of support from the administration and other people who knew the importance, so they were all more than happy to lend us whatever they had, and because it’s a staple for so long, we had so much information to go through. “
The Ohio History Connection administers the Ohio Historical Marker program through its Department of Local History Services.
âWe’re not going to put (a marker) in the ground if it can’t be supported by primary sources and research,â Anthony said. âThere is a rigorous process that the students went through – to get this verified and to show this work. “
âThe goal for us is to provide our students with more authentic learning experiences,â said Sautters. âThe goal is to create an authentic learning experience, to focus on interdisciplinary learning and to create something more authentic in terms of the product that they have designed. “
Sautters said students had to take several for the marker to be dedicated. On the one hand, the text on the marker had to be accurate and verified, which could only be done through extensive research, he said.
âEverything has to be precise,â Sautters said. “Every statement they make about this marker text must be verified by some form of research that proves that statement is true.”
He said students were also required to write a Statement of Significance explaining why the location deserved a historical marker.
âAll of this has to demonstrate the research,â he said. âThey have to have the resources and they have to submit the research themselves.
âStudents should also contact outside organizations to obtain permission to build the marker. “
Sautters said the students were working with the Winchester Canal Education Council and the historical society.
Students requested and received over $ 3,000 in 2018 from the school board to have the marker built and erected, Sautters said.
From the time the application was submitted in January 2018, the whole process took about two years, Sautters said.
The old Canal Winchester School was chosen not only because of its history, but also because of the students’ connection to the Canal Winchester Schools.
âThey ended up choosing this one because they had the most connections,â Sautters said. “Being students in high school, obviously being students here for a very long time, this was the one they felt most comfortable doing researching.”
Sautters said the marker was produced in the summer of 2020.
The marker was built at Sewah Studios in Marietta, Anthony said. He said there are over 1,750 dedicated historical markers statewide. Other terminals on the Winchester Canal are the Bergstresser / Dietz covered bridge and the intercity depot.