This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hanging Grove Township School

One of the most attractive of the old township schools is at Hanging Grove east of Rensselaer.
The Guide to Historic Structures and Points of Interest in Jasper County, a pamphlet, explains why the building is historic and worth saving:
Hanging Grove School, built in 1922 to serve Hanging Grove Township children in grades one through eight, still stands on State Road 114 and County Road 320 E. east of Rensselaer. One of several remaining but endangered township school buildings in Jasper County, the structure features impressive Art Deco and Craftsman styling with attractive white terra cotta accents reflecting the architecture of the 1920s. Classified as outstanding in the Jasper County Inventory, the school was vacated in the 1960s and used for a short time as a church before being permanently closed. The structure has deteriorated to the point where the roof is partially collapsed, window are broken out and the interior is decaying. It is, however, structurally sound, still restorable and is listed on the 2007 Jasper County list of Ten Most Endangered Historic Structures.
Any restoration would save only the exterior walls; the interior would have to be gutted if water has gotten to it. I think the old township schools are very interesting and attractive, but if they have been vacant and unheated for over forty years, I doubt that they would find a use even if they could be restored.
Most of these schools were not unique--when the architect drew up the plans, those plans were used for several schools. I was told by one of the experts in these schools that there were some replicas of this school, though none of the others had the white terra cotta trim that made this building so attractive.

Since the pamphlet was issued, a bit of the wall in the back has collapsed.
I do not believe that entrance to this school is permitted so I did not attempt to go inside.

Some updates on other vacant schools:

The Jordan Township School served as a school for CDC for a couple of years before they got facilities in Rensselaer. That probably would have been in the 70s. Also, this weekend the alumni from this school are having a reunion at the Tri-County Bible Church.

The Mt Ayr school is starting to deteriorate. The newer sections are not holding up as well as the original part.  Also, a couple of months ago its ownership changed. A man in Crown Point owned it and sold it to  Merrillville woman but the transaction may have been only to avoid some legal problems.

I finally visited the North Newton Township School and will eventually get around to doing a few posts on it.


Anonymous said...

When built the Hanging Grove School housed 10 grades. To graduate the students had to provide their own transportation to one of the area town to attend the last two grades. My grandfather sent his children to Francesvville because it was much closer to our farm than Rensselaer. My older brothers completed eight grades at Hanging Grove. We had three classrooms then 1&2 together, 3,4,5 in another room and 6,7,8 in the last room. The fourth room (southwest corner) was a kitchen. A gym furnace room, storage and the restrooms were in the basement. in the mid 60's all junior high students were moved to Rensselaer so I only completed 6 grades at Hanging Grove, and never had more than 11 in my class.

Anonymous said...

When is the coffee table book of "Abandoned School Houses of Northwest Indiana" being published?

Anonymous said...

Been traveling past this school my whole life on the way to my parents Cottage in Buffalo. I so remember when the building was in impeccable condition in the 1980's. All the windows were in place, and building looked fantastic! So sad to see it in the state that is today: the back of the building is in shambles, everything inside collapsed in and trees are blocking the front so you cant even see the name of the school!

Ray Gapinski said...

Drove past this site today,
December 29th, 2014.

Entire Building is now
* Totally Leveled * !

ALL its rubble and debris
has been completely hauled away !

Only BARE GROUND now remains.
< sigh >

Location is (was) :

on Highway 114, East of Rensselaer,
(North side of the road),
just West of Mile-marker 29.

So glad I got some nice
photographs of this charming
and stately old building,
before it vanished forever !