Somerville School – January 29th 2009

A day late and a dollar short… seems to be the story of my life.   Worse… I’m late making the posting!  Ah well…

I was reading the online Journal News one morning late in January and learned about the Somerville School.  Apparently the structure had been built in the early 1900’s and served the community for a very long time.  A search netted these details:

Abandoned for more than a decade, Somerville School was completed in 1916 and used for all 12 grades until 1953 when the district became part of Tallawanda City Schools which includes the City of Oxford, Oxford Township, Milford Township, Reily Township, and parts of Hanover Township and the City of Hamilton, making it one of the largest school districts (geographically) in the state. The school wasn’t closed until the early 1980’s though.

Unfortunately, according to the article, the building was slated for demolition the next week.  Disappointing.  Wanting to get some documentation of the building before it was lost forever, I waited for a nice day THAT week (after all demolition was slated for NEXT week right?) and headed out to Somerville.

Turned out to be a good thing I didn’t wait another day because I got there to find demolition already in progress!

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So, I didn’t get to get any pictures of the inside at all…  I did find these interior pictures and discussion on urbanohio.com.  Personally, I think the demolition of this building really sucks.  Look around the world and you can find buildings thousands of years old.  We can’t even keep one for a hundred.

I tried to dig up more history on the school and area, but found little.   There is some discussion about the school here on darrtown.com.

GCR9J8 Lanes Mill

Cache Page (Geocaching.com): Lane’s Mill

Lane’s Mill was the second geocache we tried to find today. I had a relatively good idea where the mill was located, although I’d never known it was there prior to finding out about it on the website. I really enjoy historic sites like this one, and so I was eager to visit. We had our chance when we were called to transport a patient out of the hospital in Oxford. Since it was a scheduled transport, we had some time prior to the call, and decided to stop.

The building is significantly more impressive in person than it is in pictures and is well worth the visit, despite the decrepit condition. It saddens me immensely to see the building falling apart. Unfortunately, the exact location of the water wheel is difficult to determine, but I suspect it’s marked by a large section of collapsed stonework to the rear of the building. The mill property is all private, so theoretically, the cache is hidden nearby, and not on the property itself. We couldn’t find it. I suspect it was originally located under an abandoned mailbox nearby but the hole under the mailbox was empty when we got there.

As such, I didn’t log the cache as found. Hopefully the cache owner will go check the cache, but who knows. It was still worth the trip despite the lack of a find. Be sure to check out the pictures below. I’d love to get permission to get inside the building and photographically document what’s left before the building collapses forever. I may look into that soon. In the mean time, I guess we’ll have to be satisfied with looking from afar.

Here is some of the information I learned on Lane’s Mill:

Lane’s Mill was a gristmill, sawmill and fulling mill on Four Mile Creek in Section 31 of Milford Township, within two miles of the present corporate limit of Oxford. The abandoned mill is on Lanes Mill Road, north of Wallace Road.

The original mill was built about 1816 by Isiah Bryant and John Wallace, who also operated the mills for several years. It was rebuilt in 1850 by William Elliott (or Elliot) as a three-story mill, and its owners included James Smiley and later his son-in-law, William L. Lane of Oxford, whose name remains attached to the mill and the road.

The Lane’s Mill Historic Buildings, 3884 Wallace Road, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The web site of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society says the “Lane’s Mill Historic Group is a significant embodiment of 19th century mill activity in rural Butler County. The mill building, constructed 1848-1850, is also significant as being one of the few and probably the finest representations of stone mill architecture in south- western Ohio.

Lane’s Mill occupies a site that has been devoted to mill operations since 1816, and by 1837 was a locally important focal point for the processing of grain and wood. Butler County, in 1850, was the state’s largest producer of Indian corn. William Elliot, cognizant of the demands to process this raw material, constructed the large, handsome mill in 1848. It was an undershot variety, powered by a race constructed for the previous mills. In 1853, Elliot erected the frame farmhouse; soon thereafter he was killed in an accident at the mill. The mill acquired its present name from William Lane, who owned the mill until 1898.” The Manrod family owned and operated the farm complex after the 1880s.

And here is a section from Ohio’s Old Mills Today which also discusses Lane’s Mill.  Of course, don’t forget to check out my Lane’s Mill Pictures below!

Updates:

3/23/2006 – Sandy Cheek and I made another visit while in the area after an Ambulance transport and finally found this one!  Here’s my geocaching.com log!

4/21/2012 – I was enjoying revisiting some old cache listings when I read in the geocache listing for this one that the mill has finally collapsed, apparently as a result of the hurricane force winds we got from the remains of hurricane Ike.  I guess I’m going to have to revisit this one for an updated look.

6/11/2014 – As I was revisiting this again, I found this entry about the mill on darrtown.com.  Such a shame that the mill was allowed to be destroyed.

The New Hope Bridge

This is it… this is the place that started it for me… at least as Geocaching goes.  This is the New Hope Bridge.  My partner and I spotted it when we were doing a transport out east to a Georgetown nursing home and decided to stop and check it out on the way back.  While it is a beautiful bridge, it wasn’t the bridge itself that got me into Geocaching.  It was actually when I was going the research about it that I stumbled onto Geocaching.   Apparently, somewhere near the bridge is a letterbox.  As I learned about Letterboxing, I found that Letterboxing is a close cousin to Geocaching and learned about Geocaching!  Check out the pictures:

The bridge is located in Brown County, Ohio and spans the White Oak Creek.  The Brown County Tourism Board has this to say about the bridge:

Bridge No. 35-08-05, New Hope Covered Bridge

Located off U.S. Route 68, southwest of New Hope, this is a 188-foot Howe truss with laminated arches. The bridge on this site was built in 1872 and replaced by the present bridge in 1878. Josiah Bryant, well known Brown County bridge builder, was awarded the 1878 contract at $13.95 per lineal foot. The New Hope Bridge is among the longer single-span covered bridges in the state.

In 1902, the county employed Louis S. Bower, Sr., of Fleming County, Kentucky to renovate this bridge and he added eleven-ply laminated arches. In 1977, Brown County hired his son, Louis S. “Stocker” Bower, Jr. to supervise more repairs. The bridge unerwent extensive repairs in 2003-04 and is currently closed to traffic.

If you actually want to try to find the letterbox, here are the clues:

At the N-E end of the bridge at 3 paces away there are two poles you will see.
Behind the second pole is a large rock.The box is under the large rock
hidden by a smaller rock at the opening of its resting place.Remove the
small rock and you will see the covered bridge box .

I don’t know if it’s still there.  I didn’t learn about the box until I got home, so I haven’t found it.  The box was apparently placed in 2002…