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.


Morning Star, October 25, 2015, pg. 3

With the talk of consolidation being whispered as one of the several possible options regarding our local school system, it should be noted that this is not the first time that Albion’s schools have been subjected to a consolidation. What became known as the Albion Public Schools was the result of the consolidation of three separate school districts. They were: The Sheridan and Albion No. 1 Fractional school district, located just north of what today is Crowell Park, where the Salem Church of Christ is located; 2) The Albion and Sheridan No. 3 Fractional district, located on the south side of E. Michigan Avenue at "Five Points," which later became the "East Ward" school; and 3) the Albion No. 1 Fractional school district, located in the 600 block of S. Superior St., otherwise known as the "Little Red Schoolhouse."

These districts were originally organized during Albion’s pioneer days when the unincorporated village of Albion was divided between Albion and Sheridan Townships, with Michigan Avenue being the boundary line. It was not until 1855 that Albion was organized as an official village and became its own legal entity. There had been an effort to consolidate the school districts into one Union School district back in the 1850s so that a suitable structure could be erected to further the education of the entire community. A lack of taxpayer support squelched plans at that time.

Following the Civil War however, the effort of consolidation was renewed, and on the September 17, 1867, the Graded School District No. 1 Fractional of Albion and Sheridan, otherwise known as the Albion Union Schools, was organized. This historic consolidation occurred in Howard Hall, a prominent meeting and entertainment place of the mid-19th century in downtown Albion. Howard Hall was located on the 3rd floor of the structure at 206 S. Superior St., which today houses Foxy Nails, and the former Sam Friia law office.

The following six persons were elected to the new school board for the original 1867-68 school year: Andrew M. Fitch, moderator/presiding officer (Fitch St. named after him); Wellington Bidwell, director/secretary (Bidwell St. named after him); Charles Wylie Dalrymple, treasurer (Dalrymple School named after him); Augustus J. Gale (Gale St. named after this family surname); Samuel V. Irwin (Irwin Avenue named after him); and Phineas Graves. No Graves St., however. Sorry.

The budget for this first school year was $1,275. The one male teacher was paid $50 a month, but the board generously raised it to $55 at the October 15, 1867 meeting. The female teachers were paid $21 per month, or $7 per week. In the following few years the Albion Union Schools embarked upon a building campaign to erected new elementary schools (North, South, and East Wards, 1869), and the Central School (1872) on E. Michigan Avenue (presently the Washington Gardner High School building). The district continued to grow and prosper. On March 12, 1885, a special charter granted by the state legislature officially organized the Albion school system into a graded district, and the name was legally changed to the Albion Public Schools. The rest is history.

From our Historical Notebook this month we present a photograph of the "Howard Hall" building at 209 S. Superior St. where the Albion Public Schools was organized 148 years ago. Take a look at the top (3rd) floor in this photo. That’s where the consolidation occurred in 1867. This is where it all began, the result of a consolidation. How many of our readers have ever been up in "Howard Hall" on the 3rd floor, where the Albion Public Schools began in 1867?

"Howard Hall" building at 209 S. Superior St.

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago -- November 1915

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