Freedom Township Historical Society’s schoolhouse restoration project is moving forward this summer.
FTHS leased the former one-room schoolhouse and church from the township in February and since then, we have been working diligently to turn the abandoned building into a museum and community meeting center. The white building located on S.R. 303 in Drakesburng just east of the S.R. 88 intersection was built around 1857 as part of eight one-room schoolhouses that were used to educate several generations of Freedom children, including my great-grandfather Roy Garrett, until Freedom School at Freedom Center was built in the 1910s.
The school was turned into a livestock barn and later a Pentecostal church that was founded by Freedom resident Artie Summers. I, my parents and grandparents Curt and Irene Kesling attended this church in the 1980s when it was known as Drakesburg Assembly of God. In recent years, the property was privately owned and fell into disrepair. Trustee John Zizka worked with the Portage County Land Bank to tear down the adjoining house and outbuilding and to return the one-acre lot and schoolhouse to the township.
Since then, Freedom business JC Electric has installed basic electric services, and my Freedom Road neighbor Joe Roth of J&R Heating has installed a furnace with a grant from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council. Windham Township Trustee and deputy sheriff Dan Burns brought a work crew from the Portage County Jail to tear down the drywall.
FTHS member Charles Duffield has also volunteered dozens of hours of his time working on difficult projects like tearing down the chimney on the west side of the building. FTHS member Dan Grafton has also spent a lot of time working at the site. Future projects include installing windows and obtaining grants for insulation and drywall.
All of this work culminated last Saturday (June 23) with a work day at the schoolhouse. Despite the rainy weather and the Garrettsville Summerfest, we had a good crowd of volunteers. Pete Thornton and Claudia Kennedy removed old nails, my father, John F. Garrett, cut down trees and weeds, and Mr. Zizka ran his brush hog around the property with such vigor that he punctured a tire (sorry!). Treasurer and Historian Judy Thornton, President Claudia Garrett and I helped clear the brush on the outside of the building.
If you’ve driven around Freedom this summer, you know the township is looking beautiful. A big thank you to township road crew members Tony Vansteenberg and Butch Roosa for maintaining the township grounds and decorating the Freedom Honor Roll and cemeteries with flowers from Pochedly’s Greenhouse in Mantua and American flags. Also thank you to JC Electric for installing the flags at Freedom Center.
It’s hot out there this summer, so if you need some cool clothes, you can buy a T-shirt from the historical society. We now have shirts available in a new one-room schoolhouse design. The shirts have a drawing of the Drakesburg schoolhouse on the front and the phrase "There’s no place like Freedom Twp" with heart in place of the "o" in Freedom on the back.
The shirts are available in a variety of colors and sizes with either a V-neck or crew-neck design or, if you’re the chilly type, we have sweatshirts. Price range from $12 to $15 for the T-shirts and $20 for the sweatshirts. Contact me at the information below if you would like an order form by email or you can place your order by phone with Judy Thornton by calling 330-527-7669.
The James A. Garfield alumni recently sent out postcards to more than 500 graduates of the Freedom, Garrettsville, James A. Garfield, and Nelson schools regarding the 13th annual alumni banquet on Sept. 15. If you’ve received your postcard be sure to get your reservation and payment in the mail by Aug. 31. If you’re an alumnus who didn’t receive a postcard or you would like more information, contact Helen Louise (Paul) Bouts at 330-309-2734 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I like to make Fourth of July blueberry slab pie for my Independence Day celebration but it looks like Freedom’s blueberry crop is a little late this year because of the hard winter. Wolff’s Blueberries at the intersection of S.R. 700 and Hankee Road and Nirosky’s Morning Star Farms on Slagle Road both estimate that their crop won’t be ready until between Thursday (July 5) and July 10.
Instead, I’ll have to make strawberry-rhubarb slab pie this year (the rhubarb in my backyard garden is abundant this year). I’ll put my recipe up on our Facebook page, Freedom Township: Then and Now.
Happy Independence Day to all my readers!
Contact Amanda Garrett at email@example.com or at 330-842-4374.