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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197
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Historic Tour > Virtual Tour > Geddes Town Hall School House

 

Geddes Town Hall School House

Historical Name(s): Geddes Town Hall School House

Geddes Town Hall School House

Geddes Town Hall School House

Date constructed: 1895

Architect: Unknown

Style of Architecture: Vernacular

Original Use: Schoolhouse

Dates of renovation: Moved to EMU July 7, 1987.

Current Use: Repository of educational history

History: The Geddes Town Hall School House arrived on a flat bed. It was moved to its present site on the campus of Eastern Michigan University on July 7, 1987 to be a repository and showcase for the history of teaching. The building was donated by the Geddes family who owned the property upon which it had been built.

The wood frame structure is actually the second Geddes Town Hall School House to be built. The original house was constructed of brick in 1852 and located on the northwest corner of William Geddes Farm on Morgan and Thomas Roads in Pittsfield Township, Washtenaw County. The brick building was replaced by the current wooden structure in 1895.

The school housed 9 grades in a single room with one teacher. By 1900 the grades were decreased to 8. One-room schoolhouses were quite common in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One-room schoolhouses peaked at 200,000 around 1925.

Going to school in a one-room schoolhouse was an adventure. Heating was minimal. The school got its first wood and coal-burning stove in 1926, replacing an older even less efficient wood-burning stove.

Geddes Town Hall School House

Another view of the Geddes Town Hall School House
Not until 1940, did the school board install a coal stove. The building was wired for electricity in 1932 at a cost of $32.00, and eventually also got running water. Indoor bathrooms, however, never arrived. This lack of bathrooms is thought to be the reason for its final closure in 1957.

Minimal indoor plumbing may have spelled the final end of the Town Hall School but as early as 1930, one-room schoolhouses were starting to decline. By 1950, the number had fallen to 75,000 one-room schoolhouses in operation. Town Hall School followed the same trend. In 1955, the number of grades in the school were reduced to kindergarten through sixth. In 1957 it was annexed to Ann Arbor Public School system and closed.

When Geddes Town Hall School house was donated to Eastern in 1987, the University planned to furnish it with contemporary teaching implements and use it as a working classroom. “As EMU was the first teacher education school west of the Allegheny Mountains, the project also [was] intended to serve as a reminder to future area residents, students, and faculty of the beginnings of formal education in Michigan.” The schoolhouse would be a repository for the collection and preservation of educational history.

When it arrived the building was largely bare containing only its original bell and piano. Donations from around Washtenaw County have filled in the gaps. Today the school is used as an educational facility where students in the Education Department demonstrate early 20th century classroom life for school children from the Washtenaw.

Location - Geddes Town Hall School House

 


Location of Geddes Town Hall School House (Click on the image for a bigger view)