The Firelands Local School District was officially formed in 1952 with the consolidation of the Brownhelm, Camden, Florence and Henrietta school districts.
The residents of South Amherst voted to join the Firelands School District on July 1, 1988. The South Amherst building was utilized and the old original school buildings, which had not seen any major renovations since the early 1930’s, were sold to their township trustees. Of the original buildings, only Brownhelm remains standing.
Citizens of Brownhelm township created the Brownhelm Historical Association in 1993 to ensure the history of its community and is active in the preservation of three historical locations within the township. The society is currently renovating the Brownhelm red brick schoolhouse on North Ridge Road. They maintain the Brownhelm Heritage Museum on Claus Road, formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church built in 1870, and they protect an early cemetery now known as Brown’s Lake Road Cemetery, where many of Brownhelm’s early settlers were laid to rest.
The original school building was built in 1889. Children came from district schools to the North Ridge School, either by walking or horse and buggy, to finish their high school education. The building was enlarged in 1905 and again in 1922. In 1954 Brownhelm joined the FLSD and continued to serve as an elementary school until 1988.
In 2008 The BHA acquired a 99 year lease with the Brownhelm Township Trustees to renovate the building, just prior to it be demolished. With hard work, the exterior renovations were completed in 2012 and indoor repairs began in 2013. Once the lower level restoration is complete, the building will once again be able to serve the community. Donations from local residents have made the project possible.
The Brownhelm Historical Association holds meetings the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Carriage Barn at Mill Hollow.
The BHA is accepting new members and volunteers to help in the restoration of this building. Interested parties can contact Bob Leimbach, the Vice-President of the BHA, at (440) 988-8410.
Information for this article was obtained from members of the Brownhelm Historical Association and by Brownhelm: Its School and Its People, compiled by Audrey Judy Reicher.