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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Lebanon Academy's Educational Tradition Began In 1835

Dallas Bogan on 6 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

With education being placed at the forefront in early Lebanon, an academy of learning was discussed, a committee appointed, and in October 1835, a dream of the Lebanon forefathers was brought to light.
The Western Star of October 16, 1835, published an account of this occurrence. It recorded the event as follows:

"Public Notice:
"At a meeting of the citizens of Lebanon, convened at the town-hall on the evening on the 12th inst. George J. Smith was called to the Chair, and Thomas Corwin appointed Secretary.
"The object of the meeting being stated, the following resolutions were adopted.
"Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to ascertain the most suitable site for an academy in Lebanon; the quantity of ground necessary therefore and the price at which it may be obtained, whether any, and what donations can be obtained in land or money to such purpose, and report to an adjoined meeting of the citizens of Lebanon and its vicinity, to be held at the town-hall at early candlelight on Thursday the 22nd of October, inst."

The announcement stated in simple terms that a plan be outlined that would be suitable for an academy. Costs and voluntary donations were discussed, and the formation of a joint stock company was introduced.
The next meeting was to be held at the same location on Thursday, October 22, with an invitation to the public.
Appointed to a committee regarding the adopted resolutions were Thomas Corwin, A.H. Dunlevy and William M. Charters. George J. Smith was appointed Chairman and Thomas Corwin was selected as Secretary.
Not until Dec. 12, 1843, was an actual report written and signed by the town officials. It read:

"We the citizens of Lebanon and vicinity, desiring to promote the cause of knowledge and sciences, and have their estimable blessing to our posterity, do hereby associate ourselves together under the name of 'The Lebanon Academy.'
"The object of the institution shall be to educate Males and Females in higher branches of learning that are usually taught in the common schools of our country, and to instruct them in the elements of morality and the great truths of the Christian Religion."

Capital stock for the project was not to exceed $20,000, each share amounting to $20.00. Payment of the first share was due on March 1, 1844, and the other monies were to be distributed in equal installments annually, until total payment was made.
Each stockholder was to have one vote up to nine shares. Ten shares would count two votes, and one vote for every share over ten. Nonpaying stockholders were to be deprived of their vote.
An article in The Western Star, dated March 1, 1844, described in effect the practicality of an academy. It stated that:

"The interest felt by a community on the subject of education is generally indicated by the facilities afforded for the acquisition of knowledge, especially that first requisite, a good house, without suitable buildings especially dedicated to the uses of learning few schools ever acquire stability or character.
"It is with no small satisfaction, therefore, that we have witnessed the success which has attended the recent effort for erection of an academy in Lebanon. Subscriptions to the amount of five or six thousand dollars have been obtained, as we learn, for that purpose, and a building is to be put up as soon as practicable."

The subscription committee consisted of William Charters, Amos Barr, William Russell, Joseph Anderson and Robert Boake. Notice for an election was to be given when subscriptions reached $5,000.

The Academy was incorporated February 19, 1844. Twelve trustees were elected. The charter said in effect "the four oldest shall hold office until March 1845. The next four oldest until March 1846. The next four oldest until March 1847, and these shall be replaced at annual elections."
Stockholders numbered 117, with subscriptions totaling 265 shares. An amount of $5300 was actually received. J. Milton Williams was among the original list of stockholders with 10 shares. Other shareholders were Thomas Corwin, 15; George J. Smith, 5; Jacob Morris, 2; Mathias Corwin, 3; Durbin Ward, 1; Ebed Stowell, 10, etc.
Construction was begun on the Academy shortly after incorporation. Ebed Stowell and his wife, Polly, deeded 2.27 acres of land on New Street for the project. Stowell exchanged the selling price of $200 for ten shares of stock.
The deed was not recorded until 1883, just after the fire that destroyed the new University Hall. It was at this time that John C. Dunlevy found the deed among his papers and sent it on to be recorded.
The Lebanon Academy was built on New Street in 1844, and officially opened on Sep. 1, 1845, with Mr. G.C. Giles as principal. His assistants were William N. Edwards, Miss Julia Bliss and Miss Rowena Lakey.
(In a writeup found in the Warren County Museum, Hazel Spencer Phillips noted that she thought Amos Bennett, builder of Glendower, built the building. She wrote that the material, workmanship and the architectural detail seemed to endorse this belief. She also commented that the simple dignity of recessed panels and the lines of the two-story brick building closely resembled Glendower.)
John Norton Pomeroy, afterwards a famous legal writer, was later an assistant to Principal Giles, and afterwards served under John A. Smith, who succeeded Giles. Judge George R. Sage succeeded Mr. Pomeroy. Principals Giles and Smith each served three years.
The courses offered and the teachers assembled were commendable. At one time attendance grew to nearly 200, and for a period the Academy prospered, but slowly it began to decline. Between 1851 and 1855, several efforts were made to carry on a private school, but each failed.
John Locke, M.D., in 1854, who had been Professor of Chemistry in an Ohio Medical School, moved to Lebanon and made an effort to introduce a school of science. He was quite old at the time and his project proved unsuccessful.
The Southwestern Ohio State Normal School Association was organized under the authorization of the Teachers Association in 1855. A meeting of the eight trustees and stockholders of the Academy was announced; an agreement was drawn up, signed and recorded in the recorder's office.
This arrangement allowed Mr. Alfred Holbrook, who was chosen as Principal of the new school, to use the facilities of the Lebanon Academy for a period of ten years, with the condition that he would "maintain a suitable school for the education of the youth of Lebanon and vicinity." This resolution also mandated that 80 pupils from the county were to attend the school the first two years.
An agreement was also reached that would transfer to Principal Holbrook a controllable interest in the stock. If he should move away, or fail to keep his part of the agreement, the stock would then revert back to the school.
On May 24, 1860, a meeting was held, of which J.B. Graham was chairman and W.W. Wilson was secretary that ratified the continuation of the former ten-year agreement.
Holbrook's school was an impressive accomplishment. It soon outgrew the old Academy building and a new facility was built across from the courthouse. It was eventually named the National Normal University.
The old Academy building was abandoned in May 1895, and on September 20, 1897, the Warren County Common Pleas Court recorded the dissolving of the Lebanon Academy Corporation.
On February 10, 1900, W.F. Eltzroth accepted the role of "receiver" for the Lebanon Academy, with Josiah Morrow acting as Master Commissioner. On April 30 of the same year, the property was sold at public auction to Miss Beatrice Edmonds for $2,125. The Academy stockholders, or their heirs, were paid $5.90 per share on the stock after court costs and attorney fees.
The Lebanon Village School District then rented the Academy from Miss Edmonds.
Records show that Samuel P. Monfort submitted a bill of $70.65 on Aug. 28, 1913, to Miss Edmonds for labor on the property. Also, entries show that on Sept. 25, 1913, three months rent was paid, less cleaning and repair, which amounted to $47.83.
On Dec. 22, 1913, she received $60.00 for three months rent, and on Sept. 24, 1914, she received $75 for another three months rent.
From Sept 27, 1917, through 1919, rent on the building was paid monthly at $25.00.
The Lebanon Board of Education purchased the Lebanon Academy property from Beatrice Edmonds on Jan. 24, 1920, and on Jan. 12, 1973, the City of Lebanon bought the property.
Apparently the building was used as a kindergarten for many years. I don't know if any other grades were taught there or not.
The Lebanon Academy building stands today as a monument to Lebanon's superior educational system. I'm sure that many fond memories of the school have been treasured and preserved.
A special thanks to John Zimkus, Warren County Historical Society historian, for his assistance regarding this article.

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This page created 6 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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