Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, January 10, 1999. Pg. 16
Those of you who attended the Open House at the Washington Gardner Middle School building on Sunday, December 6 were able to view the wonderful job that was recently completed. Of special interest is the atrium area, which has been turned into a historical tribute to the heritage this building signifies. A sunlight roof allows natural lighting. The decorative black chalk panels around the upper wall are not black iron, but rather black chalkboard that were cut from original boards that were removed from the classrooms during the renovation process. The fish fountain has been installed in the atrium, although its plumbing was not hooked up. The Albion High School Class of 1948 (on its 50th anniversary) donated some excellent memorial benches there for people to sit on.
The historic school bell has been placed on display in the atrium, and has been painted black. It was lowered from its original location in the tower, from the skylight above to the atrium below. In order to solve a controversy, former school board member Price Burgess, assisted by James Behling, tested the bell to determine its metallic composition. The bell did not respond positively to a magnet, indicating that it is not made of iron as was originally thought. Rather, the bell itself is made of bronze. The mount is made of iron, while the "wheel" is wood, marked with the carvings of several wayward students from the early 20th century whose names I will not disclose here.
As previously mentioned in this column, visitors can view the corner remains of the old west wing that was constructed in 1885 and 1893, now housing the choir and band rooms. There was once an east wing also that matched it. When a new east wing was constructed in 1926 for the elementary grades, the original east wing was demolished.
The bricks and materials of the old east wing were saved, and transported to Victory Park, which at that time was still being developed. The materials were used in erecting a sports field house as it was called, at a cost of $2,000. For many years the City of Albion and the Public Schools operated their recreation program together. The field house provided a place for lockers, offices and sports-related activities. High school baseball games were held right across the road from the field house, where the activity pavilion now sits. And of course Albion High School played football for many years at the nearby Albion College athletic field.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Park Office, formerly the recreation headquarters. Notice the corner stones match perfectly the design of the west wing stones in the atrium at Washington Gardner. It can be said therefore that this park office building dates back to 1885, although it wasn't built until 1927. It may also be Albion's first "recycled" building.
Victory Park Office Building
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