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Bluffton’s masterpiece of Victorian architecture and higher education

A collection of John Murray photos of that building at the end of Church Street

Don’t miss additional photos at the bottom of this story -

Here stands Bluffton’s masterpiece of Victorian architecture and higher education.

It served Bluffton school students from 1875 to 1954.

Anyone age 70-plus could identify the location of each grade level by the front windows.

At first, the building housed all Bluffton students from first to eighth grades, since there was no high school educational program.

In 1877 the school expanded by offering a three-year high school program. Those students also attended school in this building. In 1904 the school moved to a four-year high school program.

An addition to the building was added on the Lawn Avenue side in 1898.

Then, in 1911 a separate high school building was constructed at the corner of Jackson and College. From 1911 to its final year, the Victorian structure housed students from grades one to six. Kindergarten during this era was not part of the school system.

The building was construction at a cost of $10,225. The 1898 addition’s cost was $6,000.

As youth of the Baby Boomer era grew up and entered the school system, the building became to small and outdated.

In 1954 voters passed a $395,000 bond levy to replace the building. The levy passed with an 83.5 percent majority. Contracts were let in 1955 and the new elementary on the same property was opened in the fall of 1956.

During the building construction, elementary students in the 1955-56 school year held classes in the high school, at Bluffton College and in church buildings across the street.

Several things to notice

First this building included a basement, first, second and third floor. The third floor, which was an gymnasium, was condemned for several years prior to the school’s demolition. No known photos of that floor are known to exist.

In the photos below you'll notice that the front lawn was very large.

You'll also notice in the photo at the top a stop light exists at the Church-Jackson intersection

The view of Church Street from second floor of the grade school

A second view from above Bluffton

This view shows the original Bluffton water tower located on Harmon Road

Nancy Steiner and Judy Schiffke


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