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History and Exterior Features:
The Halfway Schoolhouse was built in 1872, where it sat facing Grove on Nine Mile Road until 1921, when it was closed. In 1921 Mr. Kaiser bought it and moved it to the southeast corner on Nine Mile Road and Gratiot. It was pulled there on skids by horses. The East Detroit Historical Society moved the building back to within 20 yards of the original site on September 4th, 1984 when restoration began.
The building is the original 1872 structure and was used mainly as a warehouse for coal supplies and storage between 1921 and 1984 when it was moved. Now it stands as it once did in 1872 when it was built to accommodate additional children because the "Red" schoolhouse was too small. The outside of the building has the following features:
The bell was rung to begin and end the school day. The original 1872 bell is on display inside the schoolhouse. It was cracked during the unloading from a truck when the school was moved. The green shutters were originally closed to keep out the cold. The round badge in front, dated 1872, with the school district noted on it is called a roundel.
Plank walks lead to a porch
also made of planks. The windows are very much shaped like those
in churches, so the building has a church-like appearance which
was common for schoolhouses in those days.
Two doorways lead into the main room of the schoolhouse. The cloakroom, where boys and girls stored their coats and lunches, is to the left of the entrance. Originally, the boys went in on the left of the doorway, and the girls went to the right. The boys sat at desks to the left and the girls to the right. The girls always entered first and stood at their desks and waited for the boys.
The desks are the old bench-type desks with holes for the ink wells. The smaller desks in the front were for the younger children, while the larger desks in the rear were for the older children. Remember, teachers taught children from first to eighth grade, and sometimes to the twelfth grade in one room.
The kerosene reflector lamps along the windows were used for light before electricity was invented in the early 1900s. It wasn't until about 1915 that the upper globe lights were put into the building.
The round oak stove toward the rear of the building was originally located toward the front of the room. In 1872, it had a long stove pipe leading to the chimney.
The well worn, original, 1872 floor has been preserved.
Along the sides of the wall are boards known as wainscoting. The platform to the front is where the teacher's desk was positioned. In those days, all teacher's desks sat on platforms. Behind the platform is a slate board that both teachers and students wrote upon. The black painted board was the forerunner of the "blackboard" of today.
The clock above the board is the same kind of clock that would have ticked off the hours for those students that attended this schoolhouse. The long bench was used by students "eagerly" awaiting the chance to recite what they learned to their teacher.
Schoolhouse Feature Summary: (* Items in green are depicted in photographs.)
teacher's desk (1844)
* Clock above teacher's desk-1844
kerosene lamps of the
Original hardwood floors
* Wainscoting around walls
lights are original--early
oak stove--typical of
Two doorways--girls sat on right and boys on left
Bench-type desks with wrought iron decor
Robert S. Christenson Showcase--Author of the Halfway-East Detroit Story.
Bench for reciting typical of the period
in cupola to announce
* Original 1872 bell on display
Bookcase with books of the period (between 1872 and 1921)
* Roundel Round badge located high above front doors identifying the school and date established
Various artifacts of the period
Decorative wood carving around doors and windows typical of the period
Siding put on in 1902. Under current siding is board and batten vertical siding of 1872.
Rules for Teachers, 1872:
The East Detroit Historical Society hopes that the people of the community will continue to support the schoolhouse project for generations to come. The building is maintained through donations and not tax dollars. Therefore, when fundraisers are held, everyone is welcome, and the money raised is used to preserve this beautiful Victorian building.
When this building was opened, the surrounding area was open farmland. For many pupils, the walk to school was a long one. No matter what the weather, students were expected to be in school on time. Sidewalks were few; a short cut through a pasture may have been the quickest route.
The pace in 1872 may have been slower, but this was a growing village. The people were hard working, family oriented, and aware, even then, of the importance of education. This school brought hope for a better way of life. It opened doors within the minds of the young people and inspired the future leaders of the community.
It has been 124 years since this school first opened its doors to our community. Generations have come and gone, and the schoolhouse remains.
The people of this community can feel pride in knowing that they have something precious that few can claim as their own.
East Detroit Historical