Friday, April 18, 2014

Duchemin House

Duchemin House c1910 New Vienna Ohio, now demolished, twin (w/improvements) to house on corner of College & 2nd Streets.  School Barn in background on left.  
Image Courtesy of Hayward Crone via Mike Whited.

New Vienna Building, Once Used for High School, Being Torn Down; Interesting History
By Maynard Ross
Clipping from unknown newspaper c1952  
courtesy of Margaret Rachford Dean (NVHS'53)

The former Duchemin residence, which once served as the high school building, is being torn down to make way for the new gymnasium.  The razing of the building has been under way for over a month.

Built around 1876 by Abraham Duchemin, the brick structure was the residence of the superintendant [this word is spelled incorrectly throughout the article – should be superintendent] of school for a number of years.

Although there are no facts to substantiate it, the story goes that Mr. Duchemin came to New Vienna from Cincinnati and began a brick kiln.  The kiln and his home were both located north of the present building and near the county line.  The large home that now goes by the name of the Fred Deck apartments was built by Frank Woodmansee some time very shortly before Duchemin began his house.  Apparently envious of the brick structure on the corner, he decided to outdo it and build himself a regular mansion.  His wife knowing his plans, had been saving carpets by laying one atop of the other in their small house.  Mr. Duchemin made the brick in his kiln and with the help of his family built the structure.  

The building was completed and the family moved in.  They finished it as best they could and for a number of years there were no doors, but lumber nailed together served the purpose.

What happened to the family I was unable to find out, other than the information in an obituary in the hands of Mrs. Geneva Phillips.  It states that Mrs. Abraham Duchemin passed away in 1887 and left five children, two sons and three daughters.  A few incidents of the family were related to me by Mrs. Phillips.  She recalled that one of the girls was very fond of riding and on one occasion was thrown in front of her house.  She remembered that this girl was apparently well-liked by the other youth of her age and that she wore a much-admired riding habit.  Mrs. Phillips said that she believed one of the daughters was still living and now resided in Arizona.

The building was a private residence until the fall of 1911 or 1912, when it became the high school.  The other building was being torn down for the construction of the present high school building.  

Charles Blackburn attended school in the building and he told me a few things about it.  There were no desks as are to be seen in school today, but rather straight chairs with a writing board on one arm.  The building was steam heated, but was never warm during the winter, Mr. Blackburn said, unless the boys built fires in the open grates.  Then the teacher and pupils would crowd around the fire and school would be in session.   The four upper grades attended school in this building; those that lived in the country were brought to school in horse-drawn school buses and the horses were quartered in the present VO-AG building.  The superintendant of the school at this time was Horace E. Cromer[1] and I understand he was a favorite teacher.

Another man who taught during this period but not at this time, was James Cadwaller[2], who was highly respected as a teacher.  The building again became a residence in 1919 and the school was moved into the new building.  The superintendant of the school used it as a residence until a short time ago.[3]

The razing crew under the direction of Wilbur Hodson have found that the structure was well-built and had to blast some of it.

I watched one afternoon as they tried to pull over a wall with a chain and cable hooked to a truck.  It was not successful as the cable broke each time the wall began to weave at the top.

To some of the people in town the razing of the building will be a loss, but to others it will be another step in progress to a better school system for the education of their children.

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[1] Horace Cromer was Supt. of Schools 1916-1919.  --New Vienna High School Memory Book 1881-1963 p7.
[2] J.L. (James) Cadwallader, Supt. 1909-1916.  Cadwallader became the first county Superintendent in August 1914. --NVHS Memory Book 1881-1963 p7.
[3] Among later Superintendents and families that lived in the Duchemin House were Forest Martin, Supt. 1928-33 & 1935-1940, grandfather of Larry Martin; Russell Fenwick, Supt. 1941-1963, father of Jane Allemang.

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And one other Duchemin related photo
Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Duchemin 1868 - ?
Graduated NVHS 1886
Youngest Daughter of Abraham & Mary Elizabeth Woodmansee Duchemin
Married Edwin Dun[n] in 1893[4] 

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[4] Hillsboro News-Herald 28 Dec 1893 p5

1 comment:

  1. excellent, very interesting, your blog is wonderful in that, among other things, it pieces together and preserves the local history of the area, Thank You!