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, April 24, 2016, pg. 5

In this column we’ve featured several worthy 100th anniversaries being celebrated here in Albion. This week we’d like to feature a dubious one. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of construction of Dalrymple Elementary School at 410 S. Ann St.

It was named after Charles Wylie Dalrymple (1838-1907), local merchant and postmaster who served on the first school board when the Albion Public Schools was organized in 1867. He was the longest serving school board member, serving for thirty-nine consecutive years.

The Albion school board chose the Ann St. site in February, 1916, then owned by Dalrymple’s daughter, Mrs. Harriett (Fred) Day (1878-1953), an 1897 graduate of Albion High School. She wanted $8,000 for the property which the board said was too much, and so condemnation hearings were held. A jury awarded her $5,200 for the property on March 20.

Construction of the rough-lined brick structure began in August, 1916 by local contractor Frederick W. Schumacher. The building was not completed however until the end of 1917. The cost for the project was $50,000 which had been approved with a bond issue by the voters of Albion. Much of the property was on swampy lowland of the "black ditch" sewer line which bisected the property. The school board had a plan to solve that situation. The January 17, 1917 school board minutes reported: "Building and grounds committee met and opened bids on hauling cinders and refuse from the Malleable to the Dalrymple School grounds."

When did Dalrymple School open to students? I have some new information to share. The Monday, November 19, 1917 edition of the Albion Recorder reported, "Seven rooms of the new Dalrymple School were occupied today by pupils, but the formal opening of the building has been deferred until the wiring is installed and lights and ventilator system working. It is the intention of the board to then set an evening for a formal opening at which time the people may inspect the building."

It is interesting to note that classes were held even though there was no electricity or ventilation system installed yet. Obviously the overcrowding at the South and West Ward Schools had played a part in that decision. Strangely, I have not found any reference to a cornerstone being placed in this building, nor do I remember seeing one there.

An early principal (1919-1921) at Dalrymple was Ethel (Gildart) Fowler (1881-1967), a divorced woman who had the responsibility of supporting a child and an invalid mother. During her tenure, the Dalrymple Parent-Teachers Association was founded. Ethel’s son Richard wrote in a 1981 letter, "It was fought against with misgivings on the part of the teachers, the extent to which the parents would invade the classrooms."

In April 1950, voters approved a bond issue which included a $268,500 addition to Dalrymple School. Six classrooms and a gymnasium-auditorium were added, along with a kitchen and a new heating plant. The new addition was opened on April 8, 1952.

After years of educating students, Dalrymple School was closed in June, 1982. The building was used for storage for ten years, before being sold by the APS for the controversial sum of one dollar ($1) in 1993. It wasn’t even a silver dollar. What occurred on the property and building in the years to come was a saga of unrealized hopes and dreams, as well as quick cash by harvesting 130 year old oak trees in Dalrymple Woods and stripping the school of its metal content.

I am reminded of Dalrymple School’s official "fight song," written by Mrs. Pollard’s 4th grade class in the spring of 1964 which began: "Dalrymple School, We’re for you! Both loyal and true, we’re for you! For you are the best, from all of the rest. So faithful and true we will be. Rah! Rah!"

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a current photograph of Dalrymple School, one of Albion’s most visible structures today. How many of our readers remember Dalrymple School? Are you planning to vote in the special school annexation election on Tuesday, May 3? I sure hope so.

Dalrymple School, February 21, 2016

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - MAY 1916

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