Monitor School, located in Coal Grove, Ohio, was constructed in 1905. It has been closed since 1984.
Named after the Monitor Pig Iron Furnace, Monitor School was constructed in 1905 2 and served as a replacement to the “Little Red School,” a four-room facility constructed in 1857.6 The “Little Red School” was destroyed by fire and was replaced with the three-story Monitor School by that summer. It featured 16 inch thick masonry walls and 11,000 square feet, and housed grades one through ten.6
In 1911, two rooms were added to the school due to increasing enrollment.6 Due to persistent overcrowding, the new Dawson-Bryant Intermediate School opened on January 5, 1925, named after Homer Dawson and Curtis Bryant, who were the first from the city to lose their lives in World War I. It housed grades four through eight while the Monitor School housed elementary and high school students.
A bond issue was passed to expand the Dawson-Bryant Intermediate School in 1930.6 The expansion, which added twelve new classrooms and a large gymnasium, was dedicated on September 25, 1931. Grades nine through twelve were transferred from the Monitor building to Dawson-Bryant in September 1932, leaving the Monitor to function solely for elementary students.6
On January 29, 1940, a large fire caused $50,000 in damage to the interior of the school, which required extensive structural restoration. A monument dedicated to World War II veterans was dedicated in front of the school in 1943.2 6
A bond levy was issued to construct a new high school on May 25, 1951.6 Completed in April 1954, the new complex hosted grades nine through twelve while the older Dawson-Bryant structure became an intermediate school for grades four through eight. The Monitor School remained for elementary students.
In 1960, a gymnasium and auditorium was constructed to the high school, and four classrooms were added to the intermediate school.6 In 1989, the Monitor School closed.2
On March 28, 2000, the Monitor Planning Board Committee met to discuss potential reuse for the former school.1 Several ideas were floated, including a daycare center, senior citizens’ facility and local history museum, although funding was raised as a concern. In August 2002, it was proposed that the building be turned into apartments.2
Tom Brammer, a local resident and owner of Brammer Development Incorporated, purchased the school for $25,000 in an auction held in March 2003 from the School Board. His original intention was to demolish the school in favor of new houses on the lot, but after examining the underlying structure of the building and noting the success of the Marting Hotel restoration project in neighboring Ironton, he approached theLawrence County Community Action Organization about restoring the property instead. A market analysis showed the need for at least 45 rental units in the city. Preliminary environmental assessments were overall good, with lower levels of lead-based paint in the building than originally anticipated.3
The project that Brammer envisioned would include partnering with the Lawrence County Historical Society, the Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the state of Ohio in restoring the school to its near-original condition and to facilitate an addition that would replicate the building’s original characteristics.2 The $1.6 million proposal included 20 total apartment units, 11 within the original building and nine new structures on the remainder acreage.3 It would also include a community room,2 40 parking spaces and a playground.
Funding would be derived from a low-interest loan with the Housing Development Assistance Program through the Ohio Department of Development with a deadline of October 7.2 3 The architectural firm selected was D. W. Weatherby & Associates AIA of Gahanna, Ohio..
In October, more than 60 nearby residents petitioned against the redevelopment plans, concerned that the complex would negatively affect the neighborhood and adjoining property values.4 Many residents were worried about the development catering to Section-8 vouchers and low-income residents, although Brammer replied that it was not a public housing project. On November 7, the village of Coal Grove’s city council voted 4-3 against a resolution of support for the project.5