Woodward High School photograph   Save
Schools and Universities of Cincinnati, Ohio
Description: A view of Woodward High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, ca. 1911. When this school building first opened its doors (1910), it had some of the most modern facilities of its time, including flush toilets, central heating, a 1,100-seat auditorium, two gymnasiums, and two swimming pools. Other notable features were 12 rare Rookwood Pottery drinking fountains from the early 1900s and stained-glass windows of the same period located in the main entryway. The largest of these was a memorial mural entitled "The Landing of William Woodward at Cincinnati in Fall of 1791.” In 1827 leather tanner William Woodward (1768-1833) and his wife, Abigail Cutter, provided land and a trust to pay for a free grammar school that would educate poor boys. The growth of Cincinnati’s public school system around 1829 caused the Woodwards to re-evaluate their goals for the school. They purchased additional land and built a private secondary institution, Woodward High School, the first high school west of the Allegheny Mountains. Woodward High School of Cincinnati opened in October 1831 in a two-story brick building on Franklin Street in the city’s Bond Hill neighborhood. In 1836 a new collegiate department began sharing the facility. The school continued to grow, and with a few years, construction of a new facility was underway. Around 1850, however, the growth of public schools affected Woodward’s ability to survive financially as a private institution. To save money the trustees suspended the high school’s operation, but in 1851 the financial situation forced them to close the college as well. Rather than closing the high school altogether (especially with a new building on the horizon), the board of trustees reinstated the high school but merged it with the Cincinnati public school system. The new facility, designed by John R. Hamilton in the English Gothic style, opened in 1855 at the corner of Woodward Street and Sycamore Street. In 1860 the remains of William and Abigail Woodward were interred in a stone vault on the school grounds near the Broadway Street entrance; a monument and statue were placed over the tomb. The 1855 school was razed and replaced in 1910 by the building seen in the photograph: a new five-story brick, stone, and terra cotta structure designed by local architect Gustav Brach in the Second Renaissance Revival style. President William Howard Taft, who graduated from Woodward High School in 1874, laid the cornerstone of this building, located at 1310 Sycamore Street. When Woodward High School moved to a new facility in 1953, this building became Abigail Cutter Junior High School (also known as Cutter). In addition to William Taft, notable people associated with Woodward High School include Dr. Joseph Ray, principal, 1851-1855, author of several popular mathematics texts; and Professor William McGuffey, author of the well-known readers and spellers. The site is also linked to the Underground Railroad. From 1856 to 1863 Levi Coffin and his wife, Catharine, lived in a house built by Woodward on this site in 1832. Both Levi and Catharine were legendary abolitionists who helped enslaved people escape to freedom in Canada. Levi is often referred to as the "President of the Underground Railroad.” View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: AL06021
Subjects: Woodward High School (Cincinnati, Ohio); Cincinnati Public Schools; Coffin, Levi, 1798-1877; Coffin, Abigail Nichols Worth, 1808-1860; Cultural Ohio--Education
Places: Cincinnati (Ohio); Hamilton County (Ohio)