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 18, 1998, pg. 8

Last week in this column we mentioned that the bell at Washington Gardner was made of cast iron, something that members of the staff had informed me about when I was writing the article. It turns out however, that cast iron doesnít ring, but brass does, which the bell is made of. Apparently its greyish appearance and heavy weight was misleading.

With the bell being brass, it will certainly need some polishing after probably a century of "weathering" there, up in the tower. Special thanks to Price Burgess for informing me that the bell is made of brass. Price was a metalurgist by profession and knows what he is talking about. He also informed me that Troy, New York where our bell came from once had four bell factories there.

Continuing with our theme about the Washington Gardner School and its renovation, citizens will find that the architect kept many of the historical features of the school intact, while enhancing and revealing others which many didnít know even existed. I am amazed at how the remodeling "fits in" to the overall building decor. Unless you knew what was there beforehand, you wouldnít know that any significant changes were made. Some stairways arenít where they used to be, and others have been added. I think Albion residents will be pleased to see the changes that have been made at Washington Gardner School, in keeping with the historical integrity of the structure.

The Washington Gardner High School complex was the culmination of several building projects. The oldest part of the school remaining today is the band room, located on the west side of the school, behind and west of the auditorium area. This room is all that remains of a two story (plus basement) "west wing." The front half of the wing had been constructed in 1885 by contractor George W. Maher at a cost of $5,000. The back half was constructed as an addition to the north side of the wing in 1893 at a cost of $4,000. If you look in the rear of the school you will see a definite dividing line between the north and south sides of the band room.

When Washington Gardner High School was built in 1927, the top floor of the west wing was demolished, leaving only the main floor which is used as the band room today. If you look at the top of the building, you will see newer brickwork which was used to form a new roof when the second floor was chopped off in 1927.

In the recent renovation of the school, workers revealed the southeast cornerpiece of the 1885-buiolt west wing, and incorporated it into the new decor. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1896 photograph showing the 1885-1893 west wing, and a small arch to the right which contained a hallway that led to the main Central Shcool. our second photograph shows how the same location appears today inside the atrium at Washington Gardner School. Notice the corner stones are the same as in the 1896 photo. To the right is a white plastered area where the arch still remains, although it has been recently covered hiding the room behind it--a storage area for band equipment.

1896 View of Washington Gardner School West Wing


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