The West Chester/Union Township Historical Society and Lakota Local School District hosted a walkthrough of Old Union Elementary on Cincinnati-Dayton Road on August 12th. The event gave visitors a chance to see the nearly 100 year old building a final time before it is demolished in mid-August.The Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty will construct a new building on the property, which it has a 50-year land lease for. According to a Lakota press release, “handicapped accessibility, safety and cost were among the issues that were considered in the club’s decision to forego leasing the current building.”
It would need approximately $10 million to renovate the building to “modern standards,” according to Lakota.
The district stopped using the building as a school in 2009, replacing it with the new Union Elementary building on West Chester-Lesourdsville road.
Cathy Sieber (left), Andrea Menchhofer (center) and Ron Hartnagel (right), who all worked at Old Union Elementary, came back to walk through the school one more time.
“They took really good care of it. Even though it was an old building it was in really good shape. When we moved to the new building we missed it because it had more of a quaint community feel to it.”—Cathy Sieber, Speech Language Pathologist at Old Union Elementary for 12 Years
Mary Catherine Downie, pictured above, attended Old Union Elementary for grades 5-11 during the 1940s. She originally went to Port Union, but moved to Union Elementary when the districts were consolidated in 1942.
“I worked in the kitchen to get a free lunch because my dad was poor. It’s a great school district. Got a lot of good memories and a lot of my class pictures. I took a tour and remembered where every one of my rooms was.”—Mary Catherine Downie, attended Old Union Elementary in the 1940s
Tammy Whitson (right), who graduated from high school in 1982, went to Old Union for fifth grade. Her father also attended the school.
“I don’t like it, it’s sad. They’re tearing down all the memories. But everything is advancing, so what are you going to do? I hate to see it go. It’s been here as long as I can remember.”—Tammy Whitson, attended Old Union Elementary in the 1970s
Isaiah Boaz, who graduated from high school in 2015, went to Old Union Elementary for first through sixth grade.
“I wanted to come back in here for a long time, ever since I graduated. There’s just a lot of memories, a lot of friends made here. It’s a beautiful building, historic, I just love everything about it. I come here all the time, I sit out on the playground and just kind of reminisce and everything, so it’s good to get a final walk through to take pictures and have something to hold on to.”—Isaiah Boaz, who graduated from high school in 2015
“It still hurts me inside just because I love this building and I don’t want it to go, but I understand the condition that it’s in and I appreciate that they’re doing something good for the community with it.”—Isaiah Boaz, who graduated from high school in 2015
Christy Wilkerson, who graduated from high school in 2006, went to Old Union Elementary for kindergarten through sixth grade.
“I’m glad that they’re making room for something new that will be so great with the Boys and Girls Club, but it's sad to see a historic piece of West Chester get torn down in the process.”—Christy Wilkerson, who graduated from high school in 2006
Kevin Landis, who graduated in from high school in 1972, went to Old Union Elementary for kindergarten through sixth grade.
“It’s a little emotional, but I know it’s old. I thought it was old when I went here. And I'm sure it's outlived its usefulness.”—Kevin Landis, who graduated from high school in 1972
Carol Baker Glenn (left), who graduated from high school in 1965, and Judy Humphries Wethington (right), who graduated from high school in 1964, both attended Old Union Elementary for elementary and junior high school.
“I had an older sister, she went [to Old Union] for 12 years, she was in the last graduating class of 1959. She went over the hill to catch the baseball, and she got into the open sewer and got hepatitis and brought it home to all of us. And that was in the days when the doctors would come to the house to treat you. So [the doctor] who delivered everybody in this town took care of her, but until the day she passed away she could not give blood and she had to be treated for the hepatitis.”—Judy Humphries Wethington, who graduated from high school in 1964
“I think that it was more of a community back in those days, because if a child got in trouble, by the time they got home they were in trouble again, there were no threats or lawsuits, all the parents and the teachers stuck together.”—Judy Humphries Wethington, who graduated from high school in 1964
“[I remember] the carnivals here and the donkey basketball games, the fun things. You know that was major fundraising back then, the carnivals, and the basketball, and the cheerleaders, [but] I wasn’t in that group.”—Carol Baker Glenn, who graduated from high school in 1965
Crystal Colgate (left), who graduated from high school in 1999, returned to try to find a necklace she thinks fell into a hollow stair post in 1991, when she went to Old Union.
Though Colgate’s necklace wasn’t found, decades-old trash and trinkets were pulled from the stair post; apparently the top had been missing since at least the 1950s.
“It’s like a time capsule.”—Crystal Colgate, who graduated from high school in 1999
An old pass book, one of the items removed from the hollow stair post.
A St. Christopher’s medallion (bottom), toy ring (middle) and toy bracelet (top), which had also been removed from the hollow stair post.
An old gum wrapper, among the items that were removed from the hollow stair post.
Paul Morris, who graduated from high school in 1980, attended Old Union Elementary for five years of elementary school; his mother also went to the school.
“[I came for the walk through] because it’s the last time I’ll get to see my childhood, sort of. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in here. I came in, probably 10-15 years ago, and I remember that everything seemed so small. It didn’t seem that small back in the 60s when I was here.”—Paul Morris, who graduated from high school in 1980
“I see a lot of old buildings and stuff downtown that are being rehabbed for housing and retail. Could something like that be done here? I don’t know. Do I hate to see it go away? Yes.”—Paul Morris, who graduated from high school in 1980
“I’m glad we did this. We’ve had a lot of people thank us for opening the building so that they could come back and see the experience that they had as a child, going back through their formative years. A lot of memories were told today, a lot of funny stories too.”—Mary Jo Bicknell, President of the West Chester/Union Township Historical Society
By Emma Stiefel
Before its demolition, Old Union Elementary was opened for a final walkthrough on August 12. The West Chester/Liberty Township Historical Society and Lakota Local School District welcomed community members to say goodbye to the historical building.