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Preservation group buys Eckstein School, historic Black schoolhouse once slated for overhaul

Eckstein School
Posted at 4:27 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 21:30:42-04

GLENDALE, Ohio — Glendale residents celebrated a big win on Tuesday after the Cincinnati Preservation Association announced it would buy the historic Glendale Eckstein School.

The unassuming school has sat empty on Washington Avenue in Glendale's historic district for years. Its long period of neglect belies the importance of the building in the community.

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Eckstein schoolhouse educated Black children in the neighborhood from 1915 to 1958 and stood as an enduring symbol of Glendale's history of segregation.

"I remember everyone in the community," said Denis Martin, who attended Eckstein Elementary School. "They grew up here, went to school here. And it was a lot of fun because this was a community of African-American people, and we were all like family."

Martin was one of the last students to attend the school before it closed.

She said stepping inside brings back a flood of memories.

It is also why it was so crucial for Martin and others in Glendale that the building itself be preserved.

In August, the school's current owner, architect Denny Dellinger, wanted to convert the schoolhouse into a convalescent home. He canceled that plan after a village council meeting where residents expressed their dismay.

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That led to Tuesday's announcement.

​"We heard the residents talk about how important it was, not just as a school, but as the center of community, life of the African-American community of Glendale," said Paul Muller, executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

The association said it plans to honor the building's history. Once its purchase is complete, the organization will transfer the lot to the Eckstein Cultural Arts Center.

"I think it's paramount that having this great local history to preserve it for the sake of education for this generation that's coming," said William Parrish, founder of the Eckstein Cultural Arts Center.

Parrish's father was one of the first students to attend Eckstein.

​"I know my grandparents and my dad, they're smiling today," Parrish said.

Carlos Reid, a Glendale resident who lives near the school, also said the purchase and planned transfer is a longtime win in the making for the community.

"To get up every morning and sit there and watch this structure and wonder what's going to happen to it," Reid said. "Now ... to know that now it's going to be preserved makes my heart warm."

Muller said it would likely cost millions of dollars to repair the school, and his organization will help the community raise that money.

"I think it, we all, you know, came together to preserve this school," Martin said.