School holds memories, future hope

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 17, 2005

Forest dale - Outside, the white paint on its slightly leaning frame has slowly peeled away. Inside, dust has gathered where generations of area children once did.

The bell that once ushered those students to and from their lessons was sold to the highest bidder almost 50 years ago. There is nothing left to indicate what took place there every day; none of the books, desks or chalkboards that once filled its rooms remain.

Although the building is but a shell of its former self, the history of Forest Dale School, located at 1285 Township Road 268, promises to live on, thanks to its owner, Edgar Shore III.

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"I don't want to destroy it. I want to put it back to where it was," Shore said. "I want to dismantle it, lay its walls down, put a proper foundation under it and then put the partitions back in it.

"It won't take long to take it apart and then set it back up again."

A carpenter by trade, Shore wants to haul the building to the field across the street where he has his sawmill. After restoring the building, he will transform the former school into a workshop and showcase for his hand-made furniture.

"I'm supposed to retire in June," Shore said laughing. "So, I'll get around to it one of these days."

For now, he will continue to make the five-and-a-half-hour commute to Columbus where he is employed as a freezer and floor case assembler. Shore said he uses his spare time to work on the house he is building next door to the school, using the latter for storage.

Partial ownership of the property has been in Shore's family for about 100 years, but the school itself was built around 1909, he said. Shore bought the remaining interest in 1991 from then part owner Viola Neal.

After a new school was constructed in 1956, the old building was partitioned into apartments where several people lived over the years.

When Shore bought it, the 3,500-square-foot building had fallen into a state of disrepair. According to Shore, part of the problem lies in the fact the school lacks a proper foundation.

"There's no concrete footings. That's why this building is falling in," he said. "The floor's still in pretty good shape, but all the joists in this thing are rotten."

The building's staying power is due in large part to the quality materials used to construct it, Shore said.

"You just don't see lumber like this anymore," he said stomping the wood floor.

Shore sees his love of history and lumber as a way to protect the landmark.

While he missed attending the school by one year, four of his sisters went there. In fact, he found a board with one of their names carved onto it. He saved it for posterity and hopes to do the same with the schoolhouse where so many memories were made.

"I'd like to keep it as original as possible. It would be a shame to let it go," he said.