Several new events celebrating the 50th anniversary year of Dearborn Heights’ founding will be taking place in May.
On Sunday, an open house is scheduled for the Wallaceville (Little Red) Schoolhouse from 1-5 p.m. The historic one-room school is located on Kinmore (just south of Ann Arbor Trail). Two teachers will be presenting lessons and talking about stories told by people of going to school there in the 1800s and 1900s.
“They will be talking about how classes would do recess,” Michele Kramarz said. “They will tell how teachers didn’t stay in their own houses and took their turns in living in the homes of people in the community, because when a teacher got married, that was the end of her teaching—trivia like that.
“There’s a historic cemetery next to the schoolhouse. So we’ll have another man who knows the early history of the area, and knows the significance of the people buried there, and he’ll be sharing as well,” Kramarz said.
Kramarz noted that for her generation, “this is our history too,” because she attended school there. Kindergarten classes were held there in 1955, she said, until the school district built schools to accommodate the baby boomers.
At that time, the school’s bathroom was put in, Kramarz said, adding that because of this relatively recent use, the original furnishings and décor of the Little Red Schoolhouse changed greatly from the time it was built. The city had taken over the structure and renovated it back to its 19th Century look, she said, and open houses had been held there regularly until six years ago.
Also scheduled to be present at the May 19 open house is Richard Ensign. After retiring as teacher at Crestwood High School, he purchased older desks with their inkwells to furnish the schoolhouse, and obtained McGuffey Readers and slates as well. He also wrote “us a nice program,” Kramarz added, for all-day presentations at the schoolhouse.
Kramarz teaches at St. Linus School, and for at least a decade has been taking her classes to the Little Red Schoolhouse. The building has not been open too much recently, she said, because even the schools have cut back on their outside tours. Though Kramarz also said that even during times while the Little Red Schoolhouse is fully used, classes are limited to coming only in May or early June, or in September or October, because the building has no heater.
Also next week, the Michigan Week Luncheon will be held from noon-3 p.m. Wednesday at the American Legion Carl E. Stitt Post 232, 23850 Military Road. Co-sponsored by the city’s Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary Clubs, the May 22 luncheon will feature each of the local community groups doing a few minutes of talking on what their club does, according to Dearborn Heights Library Director Michael P. McCaffery.
Just after lunch concludes, McCaffery will give a presentation on the history of the city of Dearborn Heights. McCaffery said that tickets for the luncheon will be $20 at the door (or can be purchased for $15 in advance at the mayor’s office).
For those who missed McCaffery’s presentation on the history of Dearborn Heights during the April 8 anniversary celebration, it will be presented again May 29 at the Caroline Kennedy Library, 24590 George St. From 7-8:30 p.m., McCaffery will be doing a power point on the origins and daily life of Dearborn Heights, using plenty of photographs.
His initial April 8 presentation, ranging from accounts on native Americans in the 17th Century to the midnight rush to petition annexation in order to form the city 50 years ago, drew 60-70 people from the several hundred who attended the April 8 cake-cutting ceremony in City Hall, according to McCaffery. Other stories included in the presentation will be on the origins of the name of Dearborn Heights, the legends behind the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Nowlin Cemetery, and what connections Henry Ford had to the city.
Following this month, future anniversary events will be a June 9 reunion of Golden Anniversary residents at the city’s Spirit Festival, and a July 13 open house at Nowlin Cemetery. All of the anniversary events are free of charge, except for the May 22 luncheon. For further information on 50th anniversary events, call the mayor’s office at (313) 791-3490.