The Bay City Times - Saturday, October 12, 1940|
School Erected in Lumber Days
Horse-cars Were Mode of Travel in 1886
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of stories relating the background of the various school buildings in Bay City and published each Saturday by the Bay City Times. The Garfield school’s history is told today and next week the subject will be the Kolb school.)
The Garfield school was built at a time when considerable construction was apparent in Bay City, and followed on the heels of other structural activity in the area, as Bay Cityans were fast becoming aware of the need of education for their young people. Prior to its erection in 1886, during the 1860's and 1870's, two small wooden school houses accommodated children in the fifth ward. One, the Bell school, on Fitzhugh street, was called that because it was the only school in the district which had a bell, and the other, the Bowery was located on Garfield avenue. The present Garfield school stands on the same site as the Bell, which was destroyed by fire.
Bay City was still proudly flaunting its colors as one of the most prosperous lumbering cities in Michigan, and still was content with the occupation as highlight of industry here. However, many citizens were looking into the future and anticipating the day when lumber would be a historical matter. These men and women were promoting Bay City in other ways, with some even recognizing its vacation opportunities, derived mainly by its nearness to the northlands, abounding in lakes and rivers. Industry, such as small factories, stores and shops, was being started, while farmers were urged to settle in the adjacent territory. These early residents were fully aware of the value of agriculture when the timber was gone.
When the eight-room Garfield was going up, Twenty-third street bridge abandoned its toll system, just three years after the Third street bridge. Ten and one-half miles of plank road were completed to Midland, showing that citizens were recognizing the approach of greater traveling. A double-track horse car line was laid out Center avenue to North Trumbull street, just one year after a line had been extended to Essexville. A large barn was built at the corner of Center and Trumbull for the housing of the horses. The following year the first electric line in the city was erected in West Bay City due to the efforts of S. O. Fisher. The lines were later to extend to the East Side.
The school replacing the Bell building served until 1902, when the Bowery school, which had also been in use during this period, was dismantled. Four more rooms were added to Garfield, allowing room for the accommodation of Bowery pupils.
The first principal was Miss Jennie Thompson, who served until her marriage in 1890 to A. W. Ames. Miss Josephine Knoblauch was principal in 1891 and Burton Campbell followed in 1892. Miss Mary MacGregor then accepted the post and served for 40 years, retiring in September, 1933.
When the school was examined several years ago by school authorities it was found to be only “fair” on seven determining factors of instructional efficiency and “poor” on 14. The “fair” factors include location, architecture, height, basement – in which is a gymnasium, remedial room, and kitchen – class rooms, general condition and equipment. Its site comprises only 1.2 acres, which it is felt should be increased to a minimum of five acres.
Two large halls, one on the upper floor and the other below, give an attractive appearance to the building. Interesting pieces of statuary purchased by children in years gone by are located in the halls.
Miss Anna Lawrence is principal, with here staff including Lillian M. Allard, Lois Bateson, Iola Beardsley, Florence Dehn, Marie L. Fritz, Aurelia Meagher, Althea Rexer, Loretta M. Slachikowski, Bernice Stewart, Mildred Rehmus, Emma Tennant, Edith Warren, and George H. Wilson.