Vienna Centralized School

One room school buildings continued to flourish into the early twentieth century, but in early 1915 a decision was made to consolidate the ten one room school sub districts, when Township voters approved centralization. Vienna Centralized School was housed in a new brick building constructed just east of Vienna Center. Due to the number of students that year, the use of a "Portable Building" located next to the new brick school was required and was used for several years.[1]

The new school was dedicated on October 27, 1916 and the occasion was a community event. Women in the town served dinner, the Ladies of the G. A. R. Auxiliary of Warren presented the school with a flag, and the speech was given by Professor J. L. Dickinson of Wooster. [2]

Earliest known image of students at the new Vienna School building, 1916.Image contributed by Donald Scott

The student enrollment when the school opened was about 100. The absence of an auditorium made it necessary to hold school functions at the local churches.[3]

One of the earliest images of the newly built Vienna Centralized School.Note the bell at the top of the structure.Image courtesy of Gayle Hulton

When the "Portable Building" was used due to overcrowding, the students drank water from a pump in the rear of the school building, using a folding aluminum cup they carried in their pockets. The toilet facilities were wooden and stood near where the baseball field is currently located. Electricity was installed in the school in 1922. Kerosene lamps were most likely used, when necessary, before that time. [1]

Vienna Centralized School, 1915The Annual of the Trumbull County Public School System (Trumbull County Public Schools, 1929).

When electric power was brought to Vienna, the PTA advanced the money to run the line to the school. [1]

1st & 2nd grade students in Vienna Centralized School, December 1922Image from the Vienna Historical Society's collection.Donated by Doug Scott

The Dilemma of Getting to School

After the new centralized school was ready for use, and the old, one-room schoolhouses were closed, only children who lived near the brick building at the center of Vienna could walk to school.  Children living elsewhere in Vienna Township were transported in horse-drawn wagons called "Kid Vans." The wagons had tops with canvas curtains on each side. In winter, the curtains would be rolled down; on warm days in the spring and fall, these curtains would be rolled up. Two long benches, one on each side, lined the wagon. Steps were located at the rear of the wagon. Straw covered the floor. The driver sat up front where he could look out a window while driving the horses.

Vienna school wagon owned and driven by Juan Martin (standing, right) of Payne's Corners.Margaret Underwood, school teacher, stands on the left.Image from the archives of Fred L. Martin.

On cold winter mornings, some parents would heat flat white soapstones with metal handles, and wrap them with a piece of rug. The children could then warm their feet while riding to school. These soapstones could hold heat for a long period of time.

Snow on the ground meant for some students alternative means of transportation; the bobsled. An open bobsled may have been exhilarating, but some children sought the comfort of (or were covered, through parents' orders by) a large canvas tarpaulin.

At times convenience outweighed residency. Children living south of Payne's Corners, in both Vienna and Brookfield, would attend the Vienna school, while those living north of the Corners attended Brookfield school.

School wagon drivers in the Township included Juan Martin, D. Smally, George Bacon, Mrs. Edward Schultz, William Boyd, Steve Mikulin, Walter Barnes, Earny Catchpole, Andrew Catchpole, Mr. Kingsley, Sam Scott, and William Durr.

After the mud roads were resurfaced with hard top macadam, the horse-drawn vans were eliminated. Drivers bought school buses and delivered the children by motorized transportation. For a short period of time, children north of Payne's Corners (in both Brookfield and Vienna), would ride down the road from Five Points to Payne's Corners in a Model T Ford panel truck owned by Juan Martin of Vienna. When the children arrived at Payne's Corners, the buses would be waiting for them. The children living on the Vienna side would board the Vienna bus and the Brookfield children would ride the Brookfield bus to their respective schools.

The following are drivers who bought and drove their own motorized buses: William Boyd, A. E. Knauff, Juan Martin, Newt Mealy, Paul Smith, Al Smith, William Mealy, Sam Scott, Wade Lathrop, and Dwight Scott.

Vienna's first school bus, owned and driven by William Boyd, circa 1930.Image from the Vienna Historical Society's collection.Donated by Christine Novicky

In the late 1920s, the school lunch program was started by Mrs. Marie Mathews (the wife of Ithel F. Mathews). Parents were asked to bring to the new Domestic Science room, any produce that would be canned and used for students' hot lunches. This was a welcomed addition to the school program. Dishes such as lima bean soup, vegetable soup, tomato soup, and macaroni and cheese were brought to the classrooms in large kettles and served by the students. Every Wednesday, however, students would walk to the Vienna Methodist or the Vienna Presbyterian Church in alternating weeks to get their noontime meal. These delicious lunches were served for 10 cents each.

Vienna School was a three-year high school until 1924 when it became a four-year program. Ralph Scott, Oleta Scott, and Burdette Humason graduated from Vienna High School in 1922 under the three-year format. The following year they opted to complete an additional year of instruction at Howland High School since the school had already adopted the four-year format. Ralph Scott, Oleta Scott, and Burdette Humason graduated from high school a second time at Howland in 1923.[4]

This photo of the Howland High School Class of 1923 includes Ralph Scott, Oleta Scott, and Burdette Humason. They previously graduated from Vienna High School in 1922 under the three-year high school format.Image courtesy of the Howland Historical Society

In 1926, enrollment had grown to about 250 pupils. At that time, about 180 students were transported to and from school by "six vans; four horse drawn and two motors." The school had two pianos and two organs for music education during this period. Cost of operating the school originally was $6,000 per year and, by 1926, it was approximately $20,000 annually.[3]

The Board of Education voted on December 10, 1927 to have bonds issued by the Vienna Township Rural School District for the purpose of constructing and furnishing a fireproof addition to the schoolhouse. The sum proposed was $72,000, and a levy of taxes to be made outside of the fifteen-mill limitation, estimated by the County Auditor to average 3.40 mills for a maximum period of 21 years, was to pay the principal and interest of such bonds. (Note that a mill levy is a property tax that is based on the assessed value of a property. The rate of this tax is expressed in mills. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value).

Due to the new construction at the school, the "Portable Building" was vacated as a school on December 21, 1928. 

Vienna Centralized School, circa 1928The Annual of the Trumbull County Public School System (Trumbull County Public Schools, 1929).

The 1929 Trumbull County Schools Annual carried the following description of a new addition:

The second semester found us occupying the new building. The new rooms, the new furniture that occupied them, gave a new impetus to school work. A special feature was the new Gymnasium which has been appreciated by the community in general as well as by the parents and pupils of the townships. The earnest and untiring efforts of an interested Board of Education are recognized in this connection.

Also added in 1929 were an auditorium, the library, a study hall, two high school classrooms and two elementary classrooms. [1]

In July 1933, the local school board began discussion on a second addition to the 1915 brick school, and finally passed the following: "Be it resolved by the Board of Education of Vienna Township Rural School District that for the purpose of accommodation of school of said district it is necessary to alter the present building and to build an addition thereto, including the heating and equipment of same and a cost of $55,000." A further resolution stated that President William H. Francis and Clerk F. Catchpole be authorized and directed to make application to the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works in Washington D.C. for funds necessary to provide the improvement. A five-bay, thirty-two by sixty-foot garage was built in 1934 with the help of the federal Civil Works Administration. The cost to the Board of Education was approximately $843 for materials.

Vienna Centralized School, 1950Image source: 1950 Viennese
The view outside of the Vienna Centralized School Auditorium, November 1950Image from the Vienna Historical Society's collection.Donated by Edgar Mealy
The entire student body of Vienna Centralized School in the school auditorium in 1951.The photographer was facing east, taking the photo from the stage, which still remains.Image from the Vienna Historical Society's collection.Donated by Dallas Woodall.

The last addition to the Vienna Township School occurred in 1952: a combined gymnasium and auditorium, two classrooms, and the manual training and shop areas. The auditorium was called Vienna Memorial Auditorium.

The 1952 Viennese contains a page that highlights the dedication of the new gymnasium auditorium on February 15, 1952. The dedication took place after a brief band concert and consisted of Reverend Burkardt's invocation and Reverend John Roach's reminiscences. Superintendent Wanamaker told of the history of the building and the many added facilities which included an increase in seating capacity for basketball games from 120 to 650, and as an audtorium from 400 to 1,000. The stage was nearly 3 times as big and had much better lighting. Architect Harold Hunter presented the keys to the auditorium to the president of the Board of Education, Mr. C. M. Werden. Remarks were made by Principal Raymond F. Moyer, and then a benediction by Reverend Woodall. The high school's mixed chorus also participated and the Vi-Hi Starlighters played music for dancing afterwards.

Vienna Gymnasium Auditorium Dedication, February 15, 1952Image source: 1952 Viennese
Vienna Centralized School after the addition of the gymnasium in 1952.Image source: 1952 Viennese
Vienna Memorial Gymnasium Plaque, 2022Image courtesy of Jeff Parent

This metal plaque rests on the west wall to the right of the stage in the Vienna Memorial Gymnasium.

The plaque was known to be in place by at least the 1955-1956 school year, since it appears several times in the 1956 yearbook.

Vienna's Fight Song

Hip! Hip! Hurray!
For Vienna High
High in the Sky
Her colors will fly
Everyone will do his part
Keeping the School
Within their heart

Let every student
Good friends and all
Join in the cry of Vienna's call
Everyone will fight! Fight! Fight!
And then on to victory!

Vienna's Alma Mater

Joyous and ever loyal
Let us boost for Vienna High

Let every heart sing
Let every heart ring

There's no time to grieve or sigh
It's ever onward our hearts pursing

May defeat ere our ardor cool
But united we will boost for her
Our own high school.

The "Vienna Centralized School" text remains at the top of the school's facade.Image courtesy of Leanne Lee, 2017

After consolidation in 1961, the school was renamed Mathews High School and served as the high school as part of the Fowler-Vienna Local School District, which later became the Mathews Local School District.

Updated 9/12/2023
This entry is adapted from "Vienna Township Schools, Then and Now" in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 166-170.
[1] "Tribune Trailer Finds Vienna Friendly School In Friendly Community: Enrollment Totals 346," Warren Tribune Chronicle, February 14, 1938.
[2] "Started in 1805 School in Vienna," Warren-Tribune Chronicle, April 8, 1926, page 14.
[3] "Odds and Ends," Warren-Tribune Chronicle, April 8, 1926, page 14.
[4] ""60 years ago they stepped into the mainstream of life," The Tribune Chronicle, July 7, 1983, pp. B3-B4.