Historically speaking

The Richmond Township School is seen in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy of the Negaunee Historical Society)

NEGAUNEE — Prior to 1924, there were six district schools in Richmond Township, mostly serving students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Those attending high school traveled to Negaunee or made arrangements to stay in Negaunee while school was in session. In the district the largest school was located in Palmer, called the Town Hall School.

It also served as a public meeting place and site for movies and stage shows. In 1905 there were four graduates from this school. In 1903, a school was opened in the Finnish settlement of Richmond Township in Suomi Location.

There were 25 children of school age within the prescribed limits of the district and it was noted that there was a lot of farming land open for new settlers. There were two schools in the Midway Location, the Syrjamaki School and the Tenhunen School.

Near the west branch of the Escanaba River on what is M-565 was another school called the Widberg School. In 1910, a new school was to be built in that area called the Halfway School. John Johnson was paid $8 for the lumber to build the school but due to families moving away that never occurred and Werner Kainulainen was paid $2.50 to remove the lumber from the site.

There was another school in the Goose Lake area. It was made of hewn cedar logs, drilled at the ends for insertion of seven foot wooden pegs to lock the building’s corners together. No nails were used. the school was later used to store hay. Teacher’s salaries in 1910 were $50 a month, custodians received $5 to $10 dollars a month depending on the size of the building.

The schools were centralized in 1924, all students going to Palmer, in the new Kirkpatrick School. Richmond Township’s High School operated from 1928 to 1942. It then served just Kindergarten through eighth grade, with eighth graders having cap and gown graduations. In the 1942/43 school year high school students were bussed to Negaunee High School.

In its short history as a high school PHS offered a relatively complete election of courses. It offered students a chance to participate in music. At one time there was an orchestra of 28 students. It also offered students a chance to participate in an athletic program.

Palmer High School produced many outstanding basketball teams. The competition was in classes D and E. The team of 1932 was undefeated and were U.P. Champions. In the last two years of playing, the teams of 1941 and 1942 rana victory string to 47 games, claiming the Class E championship, impressively closing the era of Palmer High School sports. The school was the largest building in the township and like the Town Hall School it served as a public meeting place, a voting center. Entertainment events were held in the gym/auditorium.

The Kirkpatrick School got its name from Joseph Kirkpatrick, who managed the Pittsburgh & Lake Superior Mining Co. Kirkpatrick was strong in political and community affairs, serving on the township board and the school board. The Kirkpatrick school was torn down in the 1960s and school functions were moved to the new Pineview Elementary School, which was dedicated in October of 1967.

Although Pineview was located in Richmond Township it was an extension of the Negaunee Public School system. Stephen Trewhella was the last superintendent to serve the Richmond Township School district. In fact he went from Superintendent to Principal in his last years because of the annexation to Negaunee Public Schools.

He served one month as Principal of Pineview before retiring. Pineview ws closed in 2001.(cir)


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