Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, January 9, 2011, pg. 6
It sits there lonely by itself, a reminder of what "once was" here in Albion. It was the elementary school for the children of European immigrants in the early 20th century, and for those who lived in the vicinity. It was Austin School, located at 709 N. Clinton St.
Austin School was named after long-time school board member Charles F. Austin (1836-1899), who served as Albionís first city Mayor (1885). Marshall Road within the city limits was also renamed in his honor as Austin Avenue. Austin lived at 708 N. Clinton St, across the street from the North Ward School. His house is still standing today. Austinís name was placed on the "cornerstone" located on the south front arch, with "Erected 1911" being found on the front of the north arch. These were illustrated last week in this column.
Austin School was erected in the summer and fall of 1911 on the site of the old North Ward School which was demolished in the spring of that year. There were four rooms on each floor, 23 by 34 feet, with cloak-rooms for each measuring 23 by 8 feet. The cost of the building, approved in two bond issues by Albion property-owner voters, was $30,000. The architect for the school was E. W. Arnold of Battle Creek. The contractor was Fred W. Schumacher, with the Albion Lumber Company doing the general construction work. The heating and ventilation system was installed by the W. H. Johnson & Son Company of Indianapolis.
For the historical record, some of the original teachers at Austin School when it opened in January, 1912 were as follows: First floor: Miss LaTourette, kindergarten and first grade; Miss Armstrong, first grade; Miss Meinke, second and third grades. Second floor: Miss Waite, fourth grade, and Miss Rood, fifth and sixth grades.
In an interesting sidelight, the 1955 Albion City Directory lists a James K. Austin as the principal, but he was no relation to his namesake. As the years progressed and other new elementary schools were constructed in Albion during the 1950s, it was realized that the building did not contain the same type of facilities that were available at other schools. There was neither a gymnasium nor an auditorium. By a decision of the board of education, Austin School ceased being an elementary school at the end of the 1967-68 school year. The facility then became the administrative headquarters for the Albion Public Schools, as well as special education and alternative education classrooms. The building was finally closed at the end of December, 1979 following some drastic budget cuts by the Albion Public Schools. It was boarded up and has remained so for, gosh, has it been 30 years now? What is the future of the Austin School building?
From our Historical Notebook this week present a "backside" view of Austin School showing how it looks today in its boarded-up condition. How many of our readers went to Austin School?
2011 "backside" view of Austin School
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic