The Bay City Times - Saturday, October 5, 1940
Building Erected at End of Lumber Period
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This the fourth in a series of school histories which the Bay City Times is publishing each Saturday. Subject today’s story is the Park school. Next week the history of Eastern Junior High school will be treated.)
Men whose names are important now both in the city and state once were students in Park school. Of course, all of Bay City’s schools have turned out successful business and professional men and women, but Park seems to have had more that its share. Two well-known Bay Cityans also served as principal of the school.
Harry J. Defoe, nationally known shipbuilder, who’s in the news more than ever these days with the expansion of shipbuilding due to warring conditions in the world, was a student in the school and also its principal from 1900 to 1904. George E. Butterfield, dean of Bay City Junior college, was principal from 1912 to 1914. Two former students, who later were to become principals, are Miss Maude Gilbert, from 1908 to 1912, and now principal of McKinley school, and Miss Edna O’Brien, transferred from the post at Sherman school two years ago.
Park school, constructed of red brick with stone trim, was open in the fall of 1885, when Bay City was shaking off its pioneer heritage, and was originally called Williams school, named after George Williams, member of the board of trustees, and an official in the F. W. Wheeler shipyard. Later its name was changed to Park, name for an idea which never materialized. People were advocating a park to extend eastward to Litchfield street, from Walnut and Clara streets. However much the residents may have agreed on the school’s new name, they nevertheless voted “no” on the proposed park development. The site on which the school was erected was formerly a picnic grove.
As one of the city’s oldest schools it naturally is not modern to the fullness extent. It’s rated “good” on only one item in the school survey, and that’s for its water supply. Nine items are “fair,” architecture, construction, height, basement, administration, class rooms, general condition, equipment, and safety. The other 11 points necessary for an entirely modern school are “poor.” In fact, the school was recommended for discontinuance and a new one to be built in a different location. Other recommendations included development of facilities for playground, recreation and adult education.
Feature of the school is its bell. It sounds like that of a locomotive, which it is. At one time this was entirely fitting as the district was heavily populated with railroad employees.
The first principal was referred to only as “Mr. Campbell from out of town.” Succeeding him in the early “90's” was Miss Mary Abernathy. About 1898 Miss Edith Davis was appointed, followed by Defoe, Edmund, Pearl, Crowley and Miss Gilbert. After Butterfield came W. G. Burton for the period of 1914-22, when he transferred to Eastern Junior High school, then Miss Helen Mackey, who retired in 1939, being succeeded by Miss O’Brien.
Among some of the better known of former Park school studnets are: C. E. Dawson, who worked his way up in General Motors Corporation, later to purchase a yacht from Defoe, a principal who once spanked him; Howard R. Ford, local clothier and chairman of the Retail Merchants’ association; Randall E. Graves, cashier of the Peoples Commercial & Savings Bank; Paul Thompson, vice-president of the Bay Trust Co.; Edwin A. Boden, police justice; and Glenn McGeogh, on the staff of the University of Michigan’s School of Music.
The teaching staff of the school includes Marjorie Green, Katherine Knapp, Genevieve Kennedy, Kate B. La Franier, Frances Luibrand, Ella M. O’Keefe, and Bessie Stoutenberg.