PANDORA — It hearkens back to the days of slate chalkboards, ink wells and dunce caps, and for Dale Bridenbaugh, the restored Bridenbaugh School on Road 6 north of Pandora is a labor of love, the fruits of which he put on display during an open house Friday and Saturday.
“My great-grandfather settled here in a brick house up the road,” he said. “There was a need for a school here and in 1878, there was a school built here and used for 11 years. This building was built in 1889.”
Like other one-room schoolhouses, Bridenbaugh went by the wayside in 1927 with area students sent to Pandora for their educaton.
“It was used for 37 years and then it sat empty for 70 years,” Bridenbaugh said. “Then I got the idea that I wanted to fix it up.”
“He started fixing this up in his 60s when he was semiretired,” Peggy Bridenbaugh, Dale’s sister-in-law, said. “Instead of watching TV, he came to work out here.”
The school still retains its original flooring, wainscotting and much of the original ceiling. Bridenbaugh had to scour the region for desks and other furniture, going to such areas as Amish country and eastern Ohio.
“The holes were still in the floor where the desks were bolted in,” Daryl Bridenbaugh, Dale ’s brother, said. “We just put the screws right in the same holes when we put in the desks.”
The school was reopened in 1997 and is now on the national register of historic places, the only structure in Riley Township with that distinction. It now houses a working organ, several desks, a wood stove, several period schoolbooks and even that infamous dunce cap.
All of that was nearly lost in early 2013 when a fire nearly destroyed the building.
“Someone was on their way to work at 5:30 in the morning and saw smoke coming from out the windows,” Peggy Bridenbaugh said. “The firefighters that came out worked so hard to save everything. They were even feeling around in the dark and smoke, grabbing books and other items and bringing them out.”
With the school now repaired and back to normal, the Bridenbaughs are hoping to attract more visitors to their piece of history.
“We typically host a lot of school groups and other people,” Dale Bridenbaugh said. “We’re hoping to see more of them out here.”
To view the schoolhouse, contact Dale Bridenbaugh at 419-384-3374 or Daryl Bridenbaugh at 419-384-3371. Donations to cover electricity costs are welcome.