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Geddes Town Hall School records

Identifier: 015.GTHS

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1832 - 2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1986 - 1992


Conditions Governing Access

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

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.


1 Linear Feet (2 archive boxes and 1 halfsize archive box)

Language of Materials



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.

Related Materials

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

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

Geddes Town Hall School records
Leslie Van Veen
2011 February 24
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197