Building Description Camden Public School, Camden Ohio

The Camden Public School, in Camden, Preble County, Ohio is a two and a half story (including basement), rectangular, brick building. The hip roof with asphalt shingles, contains four brick chimneys, and a single dormer on the south. The roof has deep overhangs and originally had a concealed box-type gutter. Modern gutters have been installed and the box gutters roofed over. The building rests on a raised concrete foundation capped by a limestone water table course. The exposed foundation is constructed of concrete that was formed to appear as rough-cut limestone.

The school is situated in the center of a rectangular site in a predominantly residential area. A veterans memorial park fronts the site on the south (Photo A-21). An asphalt walk-way connects the park and the front entrance of the building. A chain link fence runs along the perimeter of the property.

A corner stone, on the east elevation, which shows the date of construction, names of school board members, the architect and builder has been identified. A limestone name block with the school name "CAMDEN PUBLIC SCHOOL" cut into the stone is located above the main entrance. Both the corner stone and limestone name block are in good condition.

The building is symmetrical on the east and west sides. Arched entrances flank, the south, east, and west side of the building. Large radiating brick arches with colored mortar emphasize the three entrances. The main entrance on the south is recessed. The exterior doors are wood double doors with curved arch transoms above. The main entrance wood doors appear to be original and are in very poor condition. The east and west entrance doors have been replaced with modern residential metal doors.

The windows are located symmetrically throughout the facade. Most windows are rectangular double hung windows adorned with jack arch brick lintels and stone sills. Two smaller rectangular windows are located on each side of the three entry vestibules. The smaller windows that flank the main entrance are round-arched with arched brick lintels. These arches are highlighted using colored mortar. A bay window on the second floor and a dormer window on the attic are located directly above the main entrance, thus creating a focal point. Most of the windows have the original wood sash and frame. A few of the frames and sashes may need replacement. There are two limestone keystones, one over the entrance door and another at the apex of the arch over the front window of the dormer.

Each of the three entrances have stairs from the grade level to the main (first) floor leading to a large open space. The west and east stairs run from the basement to the upper floor. The west stair extends to the attic. In 1950 the Fire Marshall dictated that the east landing and stairway from the basement be poured in concrete. The west landing is still wood, however the stairway to the basement is concrete. The remaining stairways are original wood and are in fair condition. Fire escapes were added to the north exterior, where two windows were removed, and doors were installed in the window openings, creating an emergency fire exit. The exact date of this modification is not known, but likely occurred in the late 1930s.

The interior plan is composed of a large octagonal center hall space with four classrooms, one in each comer of the building, on each floor. The southwest classroom, in the basement, was converted into two restrooms and the northwest area is now a boiler room. Four arched openings connect the lobby to cloak rooms, located adjacent to the classrooms, on the first and second floor. Two of these openings on the first floor, one northeast corner and the other on the southwest comer, have been previously infilled. Each classroom has a door from the open center hall space and an arched opening leading to the adjacent cloak room.

Original interior doors are wood five panel doors, some with large transoms above. The floor material is the original 4" pine tongue and groove over wood joists. Most of the original chalkboards have been removed or destroyed. In 1938 a new steam heating system was installed. Vent holes are visible under some windows suggesting that they were used for outside air in conjunction with the steam heat. The steam heating system is inoperative, and several modern residential gas furnaces have been installed for space heating and cooling. New suspended acoustic ceilings were added in the first floor classrooms. Two modern toilet rooms were added on the first floor after the building was sold by the school board.