Mrs. Murray’s school is the only standing structure in Delaware associated with President Rutherford B. Hayes childhood.
On the front porch of a charming brick office building in Delaware, a bronze-plated sign captures the attention of passersby. It proudly displays the words:
“‘Mrs. Murray’s School.”
“In the 19th century Mrs Joan Hills Murray conducted a school in this building. Among her students was Rutherford B. Hayes. Although generally knowing as ‘Mrs. Murray’s School,” this edifice was originally built for Sophia Moore in 1822 as a combined school and orphanage.”
This historic landmark with its rich heritage, holds tales of the education of one particular person that spans the generations. Initially built in 1822 by Sophia Moore as a combined school and orphanage, this building stands as historical marker to the citizens of Delaware, Ohio of childhood of President Rutherford B. Hayes.
If my memory serves me correctly as I stood before the 15 N. Franklin Street, this is the very spot marked the beginning of Mr. (Brent) Carson’s LEGENDARY sixth-grade history class walking tour of Delaware, Ohio. Once a year Mr Carson, would leave the halls of Willis to embarked on a journey of exploration and learning in the city (more about Mr Carson’s tour in later articles).
I digress, Mrs. Joan Hills Murray, an influential educator, played a pivotal role in shaping the legacy of the town of Delaware. Among her esteemed students was Rutherford B. Hayes, the future 19th President of the United States.
The roots of Mrs. Murray’s school stretch back to 1821 when Sophia Moore, sister of General Sidney Moore, commissioned the construction of this house. Initially intended as a private school and orphanage, it soon transformed into a learning institution. In 1825, Richard Murray joined forces with Miss Moore to teach at the school. However, following Miss Moore’s marriage, Richard Murray assumed the mantle of the sole teacher.
A twist of fate brought Richard Murray and Miss Joan Hills together. Both gifted educators in their own right, they formed a dynamic partnership, leaving their mark on the school building during their tenure from 1826 to 1827. However, tragedy struck in 1833 when Mr. Murray passed away, leaving Mrs. Murray to carry the torch alone. Undeterred, she devoted herself wholeheartedly to teaching, eventually transitioning to her private residence at 15 N. Franklin. For many years, Mrs. Murray nurtured the minds of Delaware’s children until her retirement in 1868.
“The History of Delaware County and Ohio” pays homage to this unassuming yet exceptional school, noting its profound influence in cultivating the city’s most refined young ladies. Within the walls of this historic structure, lives were enriched and futures were shaped.
President Rutherford B. Hayes, who spent a significant part of his formative years in Delaware, held a special bond with “Mrs. Murray’s School.” His childhood home, located on the northeast corner of W. William and N. Franklin Streets (where William Street Methodist Church now stands), stood in close proximity to Mrs. Murray’s School. The Hayes’ home was just a stone’s throw away from the school (which I’m sure you gated haze from telling the story of walking to school uphill both ways in 5 ft of snow) where he whiled away carefree hours, blissfully unaware of the remarkable path that lay ahead for him.
In the wake of Mrs. Murray’s passing, President Hayes fondly reminisced about his early teacher, a testament to the profound impact she had on his life. Today, this historic building stands as one of the oldest structures on its original foundation in Delaware, and the only known structure still standing tied to President Hayes childhood.
While currently under the ownership of Brigado Investments, LLC, it continues to serve as functional office space.
Preserving the marriage of the past and the present, an ornate plaque adorns the front porch dedicated by the Delaware City chapter, DAR in 1991., offering a glimpse into the school’s enduring legacy on the city of Delaware and President Rutherford B. Hayes.