Geddes Town Hall School records

Summary Information

Eastern Michigan University Archives
Eastern Michigan University
Creator - Donor
Geddes Family
Creator - Donor
Wright, Hannah Geddes
Geddes Town Hall School records
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1986-1992
Date [inclusive]
1.0 Linear feet 2 archive boxes and 1 halfsized archive box
The Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse records contain materials from both the Town Hall School, as well as materials documenting the donation, move and use of the structure in 1987. The earliest records generated by the one-room school include correspondence, school district inspections, fiduciary documents, teacher contracts, and student exercises. Later records are comprised primarily of administrative files including meeting minutes and proposals, newspaper clippings, publications, and visual materials related to the movement of the structure from its original location in Pittsfield Township, Michigan to the campus of Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Materials were generated by teachers and students at the Town Hall School, Committee for Geddes Town Hall School, Office of Alumni Relations, and Mrs. Lois Porter, wife of University President John Porter.

Preferred Citation note

Please cite materials from the University Archives in the following manner: Item. Collection Title. Eastern Michigan University Archives.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative History

The Town Hall Schoolhouse was originally 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 wood frame structure, currently located on EMU’s campus, was the second schoolhouse built on the Geddes property and replaced the brick structure in 1895. Like many one-room schoolhouses, which were quite common in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the number of schools across the country peaking at 200,000 in 1925, the Town Hall School housed nine grades in a single room with one teacher. By 1900, the grades offered at Town Hall School were decreased to eight and by 1955 the number of grades was reduced to kindergarten through sixth. Amenities were few in the Town Hall Schoolhouse, with heat provided by a wood and subsequent coal burning stove, electricity installed in 1932 at a cost of $32.00, and eventually running water. Indoor bathrooms were never installed and is the supposed reason for the school's closure in 1957 when the school was annexed to Ann Arbor Public School system and closed.

When the Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse 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 [was] also 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.

The Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse was moved to its present site on Eastern Michigan University’s campus on July 7, 1987, via a flatbed truck, donated by the Geddes family who owned the property upon which it had been built. The Town Hall School was to be a repository and showcase for the history of teaching. Original cost for the school was $677.50, relocating it to EMU cost $181,000. Upon its arrival, the building was largely bare containing only its original bell and piano. Since then, donations from around Washtenaw County have filled in the gaps. Today the schoolhouse is used as an educational facility where students in the College of Education demonstrate early 20th century classroom life for area students, as well as additional instruction space.

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents note

The records of the Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse consist of administrative files pertaining to the activities and initiatives of the committee formed to move the Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse from its original location in Pittsfield Township, Michigan to the campus of Eastern Michigan University (EMU), Ypsilanti, Michigan. The collection spans from 1832 to 2010. Although this is not a comprehensive record of the Town Hall school, it does document the most recent activities of moving the structure and its current use on campus. The records are arranged into 2 record groups, SCHOOL RECORDS, includes schoolhouse correspondence, school district inspections, fiduciary documents, teacher contracts, and student exercises; HISTORIC SITE RECORDS is further arranged into 3 series, ADMINISTRATIVE FILES includes correspondence, meeting minutes, EMU dedication, fundraising materials, program proposals, and the Town Hall School reunion; PUBLICATIONS includes news clippings, press releases, and  Down the Myrtle Path: The History and Memories of Town Hall School, Compiled and Written by Hannah Geddes Wright; VISUAL MATERIALS includes photographs of the physical transfer of the structure and the dedication ceremony. Materials are arranged alphabetically within the series.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

Eastern Michigan University Archives 2011 February 24

Halle Library, Room 310
Ypsilanti, Michigan, 48197

Conditions Governing Access note

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Return to Table of Contents »

Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

For more information about one-room schoolhouses in Michigan, please see the alumni file of Miss Betty Ruth Yago Smyth, and the Columbia Corner’s School subject file housed at the University Archives.

Separated Materials note

Materials pertaining to one-room schoolhouses, rural education and 19th century school instruction have been transferred to the circulating collection of Eastern Michigan University.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings


  • Eastern Michigan University. College of Education
  • One-room schools
  • Rural Education
  • Vernacular architecture.

Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

School records 1832-1955 

Correspondence 1852 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 1

Detroit National Spelling Bee Pin 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 2

Eighth Grade Diploma 1932 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 3

Festival of Songs 1955 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 4

Herbarium and Plant Description, Carl Geddes Exercise 2 1924 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 5-6

Reciepts 1832-1852  (Bulk, 1852)

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 7

School District Inspection 1832 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 8

School Souvenir 1925 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 9

Teacher's Contracts 1940-1949 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994719)   1 10

The Economic Treasurer's Cast Account Book 1912-1944 

    Box Object
Text (32307023994719)   1 11

Return to Table of Contents »

Historic Site records 

Administrative Files 

Assignment Agreement, Transfer of Structure 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 1

Committee Members Mailing List 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 2

Corrspondence 1985-1997 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 3-4

Dedication of the One Room Schoolhouse 1988 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 5

Friends of the One Room Schoolhouse Constitution 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 6

Fundraising Materials 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 7

Heritage Program Proposal 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 8

Logo and Stationary Sub-Committee 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 9

Maria Davis Meeting Notes 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 10

Meeting Minutes 1982-1992  (Bulk, 1987-1992)

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 11

Michigan One Room Schoolhouse Conference 1993 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 12

A Preliminary Study of an Undercroft, Geddes Town Hall School 1987 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 13

Presidential Spouse Report, Lois French Porter 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994727)   2 14

Project Cost Estimates 1987 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 1

Project Proposal, Goals and Completion 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 2-4

Proposed Site 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 5

Prospectus 1987 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 6


    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 7

TeKe Keg-Roll Fundraiser 1987 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 8

Town Hall School History 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 9

Town Hall/One-Room School House Proposals 1988 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 10

Town Hall School Reunion 1987 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 11


Down the Myrtle Path: The History and Memories of Town Hall School, Compiled and Written by Hannah Geddes Wright 1996 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 12

News Clippings 1987-2010 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 13

Press Releases 1987-2003 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 14

Visual Materials 

Dedication and Structure Transfer Photographs 1987-1988 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 15

School House Committee Photograph 1988 

    Box Folder
Text (32307023994735)   3 16

Return to Table of Contents »