Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

WEST WARD SCHOOL WAS ETHNIC

Morning Star, June 21, 2009, Pg. 12

In the late 19th century, the Village of Albion was governed by a Mayor, and a board of Aldermen from four Wards named after the N-S-E-W directions on a map. In 1869, The Albion Public School board decided to erect three elementary schools and name them accordingly, North Ward, South Ward, and East Ward Schools. The blueprints used to erect a Marshall elementary school (probably the Capitol School by the fairgrounds) was purchased and used to erect those three Ward elementary schoolhouses.

By the 1870s, the growing population in the western portion of the village produced the need for another school building to accommodate the growing number of children. Area residents circulated a petition which put the question of building a new school to the voters. The question was approved by just fifteen (15) votes! A new schoolhouse, named the West Ward School, was constructed in the summer of 1873 at a cost of $2,000. It was officially located at 109 N. Division St. (later re-named Dalrymple St.). West Ward did not look like the other Ward schools. It’s bell tower was different, the roof shape more traditional, less ornamentation, and the windows where shaped different. Right from the beginning, West Ward School was “different.”

The ethnic make-up of the children attending at West Ward was more pronounced. In 1888, the Gale Manufacturing Company moved across the street, and the area population proliferated. Many of the students at the West Ward School were children of German immigrants. A look at an 1890 photo shows some of the surnames of the children present: Baum, Bearman, Beilfuss, Behling, Boldt, Braden, Frederick, Gruendeman, Hahn, Hoffman, Kopp, Porr, Schultz, and “Washour” (Weishar). Thus was the early ethnic make-up of this schoolhouse. On January 2, 1918, Dalrymple School opened and replaced West Ward School; all students were transferred to Dalrymple. West Ward School then became home to Albion’s area black children, thus beginning the segregation which existed there until the school was closed in 1953.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a WWI-era postcard of the original West Ward School building, before a two-room addition was added in 1919. How many of our readers remember the West Ward School?


West Ward School in 1919

Next: ALBION 100 YEARS AGO--JULY 1909


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