Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 20, 1990
West Ward School was located on N. Albion St. across from Gale Manufacturing Company, in what today is Holland Park. It was constructed in the summer of 1873 to accommodate the growing number of children whose fathers worked at the Gale. Many were of German ancestry. Furthermore, the Albion Malleable Iron Company moved into the vicinity in the late 1890’s, and this brought more children to the area.
By 1917, several Black families had been recruited by the Malleable, and their numbers soon increased as others arrived. Black students were at first sent to the “Colored Church” at the corner of W. Cass and Culiver Streets in the fall of 1917, instead of the West Ward where they normally would go. Classes were held at the church for black students during the fall of 1917.
Dalrymple School opened for business on January 2, 1918 after a two-year period of construction and all the white pupils and teachers from West Ward School were transferred to the new modern facilities. The black pupils at the church were placed in the West Ward School, and it became an all-black facility. The segregation which existed in the school system at the time, especially at West Ward School, fostered years of racial tension, which came to a head in 1953, when parents boycotted the school with a “stay away.”
The boycott was successful, and the segregated West Ward School was closed. One of the men who fought to have the school closed was Robert Holland, Sr., after whom Holland Park was named on the very site.
West Ward School was demolished in March, 1958, and the land was sold to the city of Albion in 1969 for one dollar for development into a park.
From the archives this week we present a photograph of West Ward School as it appeared in 1958, boarded up and ready to be demolished.
Incidentally, in recent years we have seen the school referred to as “Westward”, as in “Westwood Mall.” This is incorrect. It is two words. In the late 19th century, Albion operated on the Ward system, and elected Alderman rather than councilman. The Albion Public Schools used the designations when erecting the neighborhood elementary schools: East Ward, South Ward, North Ward, and West Ward. All two words.
West Ward School
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic