The slide show (new slide every 6 seconds) below includes highlights from the Olive Branch School Re-Dedication Ceremony marking the school's inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, held on January 17, 2010. To view copies of the National Register forms, Senate Resolution and Re-Dedication Program, check out the NR Documents section below. View our other photo galleries and slide shows on the Events and History pages.
Olive Branch Building, Materials & Design
The Olive Branch High School is surrounded by asphalt and gravel paving, except for the east elevation where grass separates it from the neighboring house. The nominated school is on a five acre site that includes several buildings owned by the Tecumseh Local School District, including two service buildings and an altered I-house, used for offices. A tennis court is also on the parcel and adjacent to the nominated school. To the west, on neighboring parcels, are modern school buildings, constructed in the 21st century, along with associated athletic fields.
Historically, the school had a fieldstone fence demarking the property's entrance at the National Road. Extending from the stone fence and lining the driveway was a simple fence constructed of concrete ballards and a metal rail. A section of the historic fencing is still extant along the eastern edge of the property.
The Olive Branch High School is an irregularly shaped building, with a central octagonal room that rises several feet above the rest of the one-story building. Six of the eight octagon walls have paired square clerestory windows, with a sunburst pattern. A concrete stringcourse is below the windows. The octagon has a steep pitched pyramidal roof and is topped by a skylight with finial. The skylight was recently restored in 2007. Historically, stone chimneys were on the east and west elevations of the octagonal section and extended to nearly the same height as the roof finial. The chimneys were removed in the 1960s. The roof has asphalt shingles, which replaced the original clay tile roof.
The school has random-coursed fieldstone, on the lower half of each elevation. The remaining wall treatment is stucco, with a concrete stringcourse separating the materials. Four rooms, or wings, project outward from the octagon. Each wing has a hipped roof that curves slightly near the eave. Windows on the first floor have a decorative light pattern, with smaller panes framing a larger glass pane. In between each of the four wings is a smaller connecting projection with the same wall and fenestration treatment. The larger wings have larger windows than those of the smaller projections. Due to the organization around the central octagon, none of the building's corners are at a 90 degree angle.
The southern facade features the main entrance to the building. The entrance is covered by a porch, with four Doric columns constructed of concrete. Windows flank the centered doorway. The paired wood doors with nine-light windows are original. A seven-light transom is above the entry.
Each of the four wings has a secondary entrance on one of the short beveled walls. The doors are solid wood without windows. A small dock is at the entrance in the northwest wing. This entry has a shed-roof hood, and the original door has been replaced. The connecting projections also have secondary exits. These doors have multi-light windows and a four-light transom above. The entry on the rear elevation has an enclosed gabled extension.
The school is three steps above grade, accommodating a raised basement. Basement windows are located on the side and rear elevations. Most have been covered over, or in-filled, with the exception of one six-light window on the rear elevation.
The Olive Branch High School is constructed of brick and poured concrete. The floors are of poured concrete, all of which have been covered with linoleum, except the central room. Wall treatment on the interior historically, and currently, was plaster over lath boards. The ceilings are also made of plaster, which remain intact in the octagon and in the room behind the stage; elsewhere drop ceilings have been installed. Throughout the interior, original wood door and window surrounds are intact. Many of the original doors remain, which are generally solid wood divided into three panels. With a few exceptions, doors and trim have been painted. Original chalkboards are present in the classrooms and near the stage.
Inside the main entrance is a vestibule, with doors into the classrooms on both ends and a doorway that once held double doors leading into the central octagonal room. An original metal floor grate can be seen in the vestibule.
The interior of the Olive Branch High School is organized around the central octagonal room, originally containing the cafeteria and gymnasium. This room is enhanced by a large skylight, centered above. A coved cornice forms a transition, from the ceiling to the skylight. The skylight is also octagonal in shape, and each window section is comprised of three vertical lights. On the east and west walls are the former chimneys, which appear as stepped projections into the room. On the north wall of the octagon is a small raised stage, with wood floor and simple round arch proscenium. The proscenium has been in-filled with a wall partition.
The four wings, extending from the central cafeteria, each contained a classroom. The classrooms had a large doorway, with pocket doors leading into the cafeteria. Only the doors of the southeast classroom remain in place. The other three door openings have been altered, with partial partitioning of the opening and a smaller door inserted.
The small connecting projections, on the east and west side of the building, contain short, oddly-shaped hallways, with access to the restrooms and secondary exterior doors. The restroom, on the east side of the building, has unpainted door and window trim and intact stall partitions. Restroom features on the west side have been removed. Access to the basement is in this hallway. The basement is utilitarian in function and is largely an open space. The poured concrete structural columns and floors are visible, as well as the brick-walled original coal-fired furnaces. The connecting projection on the north side is directly behind the stage, and therefore above the floor level of the remainder of the building. This room originally served as the principal's office.
Despite its current use as a warehouse facility, the Olive Branch High School maintains a high degree of historic integrity. Other than the shortening of the chimneys and change of roof materials, the building remains largely unchanged on the exterior. Keys elements of the Craftsman style are intact including the original decorative windows, deep eaves, and juxtaposition of exterior materials. The interior also retains its historic features such as chalkboards, floor plan, window and door surrounds, doors and the stage. One original desk remains in the school.
Olive Branch in the Craftsman Style
The Olive Branch High School is significant as an intact local example of the Craftsman style and is a good representative of the work of local master architect, Charles Insco Williams. When constructed in 1908, the Olive Branch High School was a model of the then popular Craftsman style. The contrasting natural materials with random field stone on the bottom and stucco on the top, deep eaves, low-pitched tile roof, emphasized porch, and multi-paned windows with slender mullions were all features of the Craftsman style employed in the Olive Branch High School. Bungalow houses, with Craftsman characteristics, can be found in the township, but the Olive Branch High School is the only example of a Craftsman public or institutional building. It is fitting that a township, with a reputation for progressive educational offerings, would hire an architect that proposed the latest in architectural fashion. Both, the 1908 and the reconstructed 1914, versions of the building exemplify the popular Craftsman style.
Information taken from Olive Branch School National Register Nomination Forms, complied and written by Nathalie Wright.
Olive Branch National Register Documents
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources. The archive below includes an Ohio Senate Resolution honoring the OBSPS for its successful efforts towards the inclusion of the Olive Branch 'Little Round School' in the National Register of Historic Places.