E.L. McClain Day marks another century milestone


Edward Lee McClain and his wife, Lulu, have been celebrated with the Edward Lee McClain Day every year since the centennial celebration of McClain High School in 2015. This year, the annual event will also include a centennial celebration of the old vocational building and the middle school, which both opened their doors to students in 1924.

The event is scheduled for July 20 and will begin at 2 p.m. Presenting the history will be Danny Long as Edward Lee McClain. A proclamation from the village of Greenfield will also be read. There will be a special presentation by members of the class of 1974. And, photographs by 1987 McClain graduate Parker Pfister will also be on display. The event will be held in the high school cafeteria, located in the old vocational building, and following the program tours will be offered that will include the high school, the old vocational building, and the middle school.

According to Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray, as well as teacher and McClain Alumni Association President John Wilson, the event was originally scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on July 20, but it was decided to push the start time back in order to give folks time to attend the event who are also attending the dedication of the C.R. Patterson mural uptown as well as an accompanying car show, which are scheduled for earlier in the day on July 20.

In 1915, McClain High School first welcomed students into it’s art-laden hallways. It was a gift from Edward Lee McClain and his wife. But the McClain’s weren’t done yet. According to “McClain High School: A Century of Tradition” — a book created, compiled and published by the Greenfield Historical Society celebrating the centennial of MHS in 2015 — in continuing the giving to Greenfield and its children and to future generations, McClain committed to build a new vocational building if the village would build an elementary building. In 1922, following the passage of a bond issue to support the cost, the Old Central School was demolished and a new elementary school built. Today, that school is the Greenfield Middle School.

William B. Ittner, who designed the high school, returned to Greenfield to design both the new elementary and the vocational buildings, keeping similar style and structure as the high school.

The vocational building was completed in 1924 and contained not only space and equipment for things like agricultural studies, woodworking, metal work, bookkeeping, a print shop and banking rooms, but also the cafeteria and the natatorium.

An excerpt within the historical society’s book that is from the 1928 booklet titled “The Complete School at Greenfield, Ohio” describes the product of McClain’s vision. “The three buildings, each with its own individuality but with fundamental similarities, form an ensemble altogether varied, unified, refreshing.”

The event on July 20 will be an opportunity to celebrate, gather with friends and to learn more about the evolution of the Greenfield schools campus. You can find out more about the history of McClain, as well as C.R. Patterson and other pieces of Greenfield’s history, by starting at the Greenfield Historical Society’s website at greenfieldhistoricalsociety.org.

Pictured is the elementary building, which is now Greenfield Middle School, during construction. The latter photo is a modern view of the old vocational building, including the natatorium on the left.

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