Forty-eight years ago this site looked quite differently on West Main Street. Malvern’s grand 1891 school house would have been occupying this spot where Pastor Mark Wells is now standing in the featured photo.
Next to Mark is an unassuming and mostly forgotten memento which had at one time proudly occupied a position of prominence on the front of that old school house which was razed in 1970. Gradually being lost to the elements along with accidental collisions by snow plows and automobiles, the Malvern Historical Society has decided it is our responsibility to save this precious connection to Malvern’s superb school history. And it is not just any old stone as readers will come to find out. When the 1891 school house was dedicated, Honorable William McKinley traveled from Canton to Malvern to take part in the dedication ceremony. Yes, McKinley was at this very spot and connected with this very stone.
Although difficult to read, the stone is etched with the following information:
“Board of Education – Frederick Buel, president; George Deckman, treasurer; Charles J. Deckman, clerk; James F. Crawford, B.F. Metz and J.C. Gudekoontz; Kramer & Zoll architects; Ross Rue, builder. Laid by Clay City Council No. 60, Jr. O.U.A.M. and Joseph F. Foraker Camp No. 82, Sons of Veterans; Aug. 7, 1891.”
When the Malvern school vacated the building at 401 West Main Street we see today and moved across town into the new structure, this old school name stone remained on the property. Damascus Friends Church – Malvern Campus (http://www.dfcnow.com/malvern-campus/) now calls the school building on West Main Street home and our society contacted Pastor Mark Wells to determine if he had plans for the aging name stone on the property. Mark has strong ties to Malvern being a son of the late former Malvern Mayor Robert Wells and the late Helen (Hahn) Wells: both highly respected and valued Malvern citizens. We explained our desire to preserve the stone and Mark, without hesitation, wholeheartedly agreed with the need for preservation and was excited to donate the stone to our care and custody.
Over the past year, the Malvern Historical Society has been working through the details of the hows, whens, and wheres for the project. Malvern Historical Society member Tyler Moody is chairman of the project and has done a splendid job in completing much foot work and bringing together those who will oversee the project. The number of volunteer hours he has invested into this project is immense and we are grateful for his love of his community and being a member of our team. So, we have a donated name stone from the 1891 school house…now what will we do with it?
Step two: finding a location. Our society problem-solved where to display the large, heavy, and not-so-common donation. We wanted a place which would protect the treasure yet allow it to be shared by the community. Through much decision-making, we have decided the monumental stone will be best appreciated at the Malvern Park near to where other memorials are currently displayed (including the old Malvern jail). We met with Malvern Park Board and other necessary officials and will be finalizing plans soon. So, now we have a donated name stone and a place to put it (Malvern Park).
Step three: how will we display it? Several of our members have put their thinking caps on in effort to determine the best way to display the monumental stone. Sketches, utilizing digital images, along with investigation of how other communities display such items have been engaged. We want it protected, accessible, and preserved. Thanks to Malvern Historical Society member Douglas Angeloni, we now have detailed sketches of how the finished product will present. Complete with dimensions and all the necessary details, the drawings are helping us visualize what we need to build to save this one-of-a- kind name stone.
The Malvern Historical Society is quite excited to share there will be other donated services which will be provided us to see this project come to fruition. We will share these as the project progresses, step by step. Most of the entire project is covered by donated time and labor with the exception of the materials which will comprise the stone surround which will be housing the name stone. The person who will be constructing the monument has worked alongside of our members to determine the best medium and we have received a quote for this.
The Malvern Historical Society is seeking donations to offset the $1,500 in costs for materials to complete the project. Donations of any amount will be cherished in effort to preserve this valued piece of Malvern school history and know all donations are tax deductible as the Malvern Historical Society is a non-profit organization.
Donations can be made in a variety of ways:
1) Drop off donations to the building any Saturday during our hours of operation (10 a.m. to 12 noon).
2) Drop off donations before/after our regular monthly meetings which are held the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at our home located at 108 East Porter Street.
3) Mail checks/money orders (made payable to the Malvern Historical Society) to P.O. Box 80, Malvern OH 44644
4) Contact us through this Facebook page and arrangements can be made for drop-off at other times as available.
5) We offer online donations (secure website) with donors being able to pay with PayPal and/or credit/debit cards. Follow this link for online donations:
Just know Malvern is a splendid place to call home with many community-minded residents. We are blessed indeed. One of your neighbors, a graduate of Malvern High School, who loves his community dearly has volunteered to build the monument for us free of charge. This person wishes to remain anonymous. Many have stepped up in the community to donate of their time for this project which is an exceptionally valuable gift and we will be introducing these donors as the project progresses.
Please have a part in helping the Malvern Historical Society save a piece of history and please join your neighbors who have already stepped up and donated in various forms.
Malvern schools have shaped the minds and characters of so many countless individuals. Just think of those who have passed by this stone over the years to and from class: this stone is a direct link to that heritage. In the words of David McCullough, “History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
We are open today during Dancing on the Bridge, so please feel free to stop by and say hello. Please share this posting to your Facebook page in effort to spread the word.