Old Marble School, 693 N. Hagadorn Rd. (1934)
Old Marble School, November 2003. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.
In the decade from 1859 to 1869, four school districts were formed in the areas surrounding the College. None were near enough to be convenient for faculty children, the majority of whom were home schooled until 1900 when the new fractional school district was created (now East Lansing Public Schools).
Brickyard school (Lansing Twp. District № 6) was formed in 1859 at the southwest corner of Saginaw and Clippert Streets, in a location that was between two brickyards. Its later history is sketchy.[Kestenbaum, p. 93]
Carl school (Meridian Twp. District № 7), which was formed in 1860, stood on the northeast corner of Saginaw and Pine Lake (Lake Lansing) Road. The original wood-frame building lasted until 1882, and a brick replacement remained for over seventy years, 1884 to 1960. It was demolished for the M-78 highway right-of-way. The last school built in the Carl District, Donley School (1952), is now part of the East Lansing Public Schools.[Kestenbaum, pp. 93, 103]
Champion school (Lansing Twp. District № 8) was formed in 1869 at the northeast corner of Mount Hope and Harrison Roads. Its frame structure was used for fifty-five years, after which a brick schoolhouse was built “across the street” in 1924. The latter was torn down in 1957 to widen Mount Hope Road.[Kestenbaum, pp. 93, 101]
These three school districts have faded or been absorbed, and no longer exist. The fourth district, however, has a somewhat different history.
Marble school (Meridian Twp. District № 8) was formed in November 1860. John P. Marble donated land for the first schoolhouse, which was completed two summers later at the southwest corner of the roads known today as Hagadorn Road and Burcham Drive.
For years the school was the heart of Marble community life, acting as a church and social center as well as a classroom. A belfry was added to the building in 1894, a front porch in 1903.[Kestenbaum, p. 95]
First Marble School, seen from the rear, 1903 or later. Note the privy at right.
Photo Credit: Kestenbaum, p. 95.
In 1911, Marble School closed, and its pupils were forced to make the long trek to Central School, and later to Bailey School. However, “the district retained its autonomy and the schoolhouse its other functions.”[Kestenbaum, p. 94] The old schoolhouse disappeared some years later, but its demise is not recorded.
The school district reopened in 1934 with a new, two-story brick schoolhouse on the site of the old frame building. The school, known today as “Old Marble,” ultimately merged into the East Lansing Public Schools. The current Marble Elementary, to the north across Burcham Drive, was built in 1952. Old Marble School is now a child development center.[Kestenbaum, pp. 99,103]
A nearby historical marker, erected by the Michigan Society, Daughters of the American Colonists in 1967, reads:
The first school on this site was
built in 1860, on land donated by
John P. Marble. The nearby beech
tree was called the "Indian Sign
Tree," reportedly used by the
Chippewas on annual hunting and
fishing treks. Also nearby stand:
1847 Alonzo Proctor Tollhouse
1849 Horace Bigelow House
1849–1860 Sturges-Marble House
1859 Mary Wilmarth House
Forty years after the erection of the historical marker, at least the first three of these houses are still standing, although the Tollhouse has moved again and is no longer quite so nearby. The Mary Wilmarth house appears to have been lost, but a house on the Wilmarth property is listed as a Landmark Structure by the city. The beech tree died in the 1970s and was removed.
Personal footnote: I attended Marble Elementary School for my entire kindergarten-through-fifth-grade education in the 1970s, most of it under the loving authority of Principal Swartz. Mrs. Swartz had a long-standing policy of sending each child a birthday greeting card with a lollipop taped inside. I have fond memories of her, and of those purple-ink mimeographed cards.