When it comes to advanced education, Youngstown State University is probably the first school that comes to mind for most area residents, but a longtime city high school also should be in the mix, a local historian contends.
“The Rayen School, I argue, started higher education in the Valley,” Vincent Shivers told about 40 people who attended a lecture he gave Saturday that was part of a free History-to-Go program at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, 325 W. Federal St., downtown.
Hosting the three-hour program was the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Young Leaders Advisory Board.
Shivers, a 1979 Rayen graduate, focused largely on construction of the first school, which opened in 1866 on Wick Avenue on the North Side.
When he was 16, P. Ross Berry, an area abolitionist, philanthropist and contractor, secured the contract to build the school, Shivers noted, adding that Berry also hired many Civil War veterans to assist in the effort, and that the school welcomed black and white students.
The primary architect was Simon Porter, who had also helped design much of downtown Cleveland, he continued.
A sampling of notable Rayen graduates includes William F. Maag Jr., who became editor and publisher of The Vindicator; Dr. Ernest C. Moore, who taught at Harvard and Yale universities; and Milton Warner, who, as a freshman, received 10 school letters in baseball, football and basketball. Later, Warner signed a $150-a-week contract with the New York Giants baseball team before he died in 1914, Shivers noted.
Read more about the storied school in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.