The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Currents

April 22, 2012

The institute on the knoll

New Lyme Institute graduates made their mark on world

Its alumni include one of the first female judges in the United States, a scholar who worked on the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, a famous Lincoln impersonator and numerous prominent attorneys, educators and lecturers.

The New Lyme Institute even came close to becoming the Kent State main campus of Ashtabula County. In 1910, the institute was a candidate for the Ohio State Normal College, a preparatory school for teachers. Politics and inducements prevailed, however, and the institute lost out to Kent, where the normal college would be nurtured into a university.

Also known as the New Lyme Seminary, Northern Ohio Collegiate and Business Institute and the Deming School, the original section of the 117-year-old institution succumbed to fire in 1995. Driving through the sleepy crossroads where the school once stood, it difficult to imagine that 300 scholars once lived and studied here.

The school was the creation of Judge William S. Deming, a prominent New Lyme Township citizen who donated the land and $3,000 in matching funds to kick start the institution in 1878. Citizens convinced of the need for quality education in their community matched Deming’s contribution.

When the Northern Ohio Collegiate and Business Institute was dedicated on Aug. 21, 1879, it included a recitation hall, boys dormitory and ladies hall. The institute enrolled more students than it had dormitory space to accommodate, and residents of the community opened their homes to the scholars. It was the pride of New Lyme.

“When the first commencement exercises were held, the hearts of New Lyme citizens glowed with triumph and pride over the completion of what eventually proved to be a famous school,” noted Monia Large in her 1924 history of Ashtabula County.

A fire consumed the ladies hall several years after the school opened, and the institute alumni raised $20,000 to erect Tucker Memorial Hall, “affording comfort and pleasure to young ladies attending the school.” The hall honored Jacob Tuckerman, who was the institute’s first president.

Tuckerman was highly esteemed — he earned $1,000 a year and was provided a new house for his residence.

A native of Connecticut, Tuckerman came to Ohio in 1836 and  studied at Kingsville Academy and Oberlin. He was a county schools superintendent and principal of Orwell Academy.

Tuckerman became institute president in 1882 and remained in that position 15 years. His associate was M.L. Hubbard, principal of the commercial department and a teacher of expression. A strong faculty further helped establish the institute’s reputation for providing quality education.

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