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Matamoras Minute: School construction

The start of construction for the new school of Matamoras on Broadway was an impressive ceremony. It was Saturday, June 11, 1892 and a cadence of muffled drums sounded. In the time-honored tradition of George Washington the cornerstone was laid by the Matamoras Masonic Lodge No. 374.

The Masons were in full dress that day. A parade had formed in front of their lodge which at that time was in the upstairs of the Cline and Son store on Main Street. The Matamoras Band, composed of area businessmen, led the parade with several hundred school children marching behind. The Masons were led by Jewett Palmer who was the acting Grand Master of the State of Ohio.

Leaving the store location the parade headed toward the Ohio River and then turned up Front Street. In 1892 the busiest place in Matamoras was upper Front. At the end of town the procession turned and came down Second Street until it reached the grounds of the future school. There the cornerstone was laid in true and ancient form. Addresses were given by Rev. Luther Timberlake and the Rev. Stevenson with benediction by Thomas H. Bunting. Then the parde reformed and marched up Front Street turning onto Main to end where it had begun. The dream of the citizens of Matamoras for a modern school was coming true.

The first graduating class of the new building for the 1893-1894 school year consisted of five members. They were Mrs. H.E. Bradfield, Mrs. E.W. Cline, Mrs. J. Finlayson, Miss Nettie Gray, and T.C. Riley. The first superintendent in the building was Prof. Franklin Grier. Succeeding superintendents were C.C. Middleswart, S.A. Wiggens, E.E. Caldwell, A.M. Farlow, and D.A. Leek. In 1908 Prof. Alex L. Way assumed the position to become the longest serving school superintendent in Matamoras History.

Over time the six room structure was stretched to capacity by the town’s population growth and another school was needed. It was decided that a 1920s state-of-the-art endeavor should be erected. Marietta M. Stover stepped forward and donated five acres for the handsome structure. It was to be a twelve classroom building with additional auditorium, library, and restrooms. It would be fireproof, with running water and electricity, and athletic fields on the grounds. The auditorium would be convertible into a gymnasium with seating capacity of 750. Stover School opened its doors to students in 1926.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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