Cook School - Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 42° 25.980 W 082° 54.611
17T E 342877 N 4699621
The old Cook School was saved from the wrecking ball, and relocated to this site in 2006. It was used from 1890 until 1922.
Waymark Code: WMRR7G
Location: Michigan, United States
Date Posted: 07/28/2016
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member MountainWoods
Views: 1

Today, "Gratiot Township" is the City of Harper Woods, while we have five cities of Grosse Pointe (Woods, Shores, Farms, City, and Park). Residents of the area will be familiar with Cook Road, which was also named for the family on whose land this school was established. A Michigan Historical Marker here provides an overview:

Known as the Cook School, this structure was built in 1890 near the corner of present-day Mack Avenue and Lochmoor Boulevard. Slated for demolition, it was moved to this site in 2006. The stickwork in the gable distinguishes the building from many other one-room schools. Children from Gratiot and Grosse Pointe Townships attended the school until 1922 when the district combined with four others to form the Rural Agricultural School District No. 1.


The Woodward Company operated out of this little schoolhouse for over thirty-five years, and they have a wonderful narrative (see link) about the school's history, and its purchase and relocation by developer, Larry Campbell:

Fractional District No. 9 School opened in 1890 in Grosse Pointe Township. Property for the school was obtained on January 13, 1890 when the School District No. 9 purchased one third acre of the original Louis Cook farm for $160 from Louis and Matilda Cook. The school was built to accommodate 60 students in grades 1 through 8, but per the Annual Report, only 30 attended the first year. The curriculum consisted of Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, English Grammar, U.S. History and Spelling. Later, Physiology and Civil Government were added. Kindergarten was offered around 1920.

The Fractional District No. 9 School (Cook School) building was extended 10 feet sometime between 1892 and 1898 to accommodate up to 75 students. The school system was consolidated into Grosse Pointe Rural Agriculture District #1 in 1922, at which point the school board purchased a REO vehicle (Ransom E. Olds was making trucks) and the children were transported to the old Kerby school. One of the first teachers (1894-95) was Genevieve Vernier. She was paid about $30 per month. Many of the streets in the City of Grosse Pointe Woods are named for families whose children attended Cook School.

There were two cloakrooms in the front hall, one for boys and one for girls. A rope was used to ring the bell. There were outhouses in the back. A wood burning stove originally provided heat and the shed was used for the storage of wood.

There may have been a blackboard behind the teacher's desk and on the walls next to the door entering the classroom. No interior photos have been found. Oral histories of former students have been recorded by trained interviewers, which give some information about the interior.

The City of Grosse Pointe Woods, originally known as the Village of Lochmoor, was incorporated in 1927. In 1939, it became the Village of Grosse Pointe Woods, and in 1950, it was incorporated as the City of Grosse Pointe Woods.

During the early 1930s and possibly later, the building was used as the Church of Christ (Grosse Pointe Review). The Grosse Pointe Public Schools sold the land and building to Renmoor Park Subdivision in 1944.

In 1945 and 1946, the building was used by the Grosse Pointe Woods Presbyterian Church and Salem Memorial (Mission) Lutheran Church for meetings and/or services. (Grosse Pointe Review and Grosse Pointe News).

In the 1960s it became a music studio/private residence, and again a second private residence. Then in 1967, the school was purchased by the founder of the Woodward Company.

The building, including two side room additions, was altered to accommodate the needs of the business. Late in 2006, after carefully preserving the Cook School for 39 years, the property and building were sold to a developer, who offered the school building, together with a substantial donation for moving costs, to the City of Grosse Pointe Woods. The City accepted and Cook School was moved to Ghesquire Park of December 5, 2006.

Restoration of Cook School

After the City of Grosse Pointe accepted the donation of the schoolhouse, decisions had to be made as to location, restoration and future needs of the building. Several locations were proposed. The north side of Ghesquire Park, near the baseball diamond and Community Center parking lot, was selected.

Prior to being moved, the entire building was wrapped up in aircraft cable. This wrapping was not removed until the school was secure in its new location four months later. The school was lifted up and separated from its original foundation.

Ten holes were made on either side of the lower part of the school. Soaped with liquid detergent, wooden beams were laid under the schoolhouse. Then a steel beam was slid through each hole and out the hole on the other side. Each of these beams was gradually to be raised.

Two larger holes were made in the front and back. Steel beams, longer than the schoolhouse, were slid under the 10 shorter beams and the building lowered. a bed of pneumatic tires was added under the beams.

The actual move took place on December 5, 2006. During the move, Edison wires were lowered and boards were placed on both sides of the wires as the truck drove over the boards. After the school passed, Edison workers immediately raised the wires. Total drive time from the original location to the city parking lot was approximately 45 minutes.

The city added a basement to provide storage space. The basement was dug before the school could be transferred to its new location.

The school remained in the city parking lot, while six to eight wooden support towers were built in the basement. These towers helped to keep the structure stable while it was being slid into place over the basement. When the basement walls were nearly finished, and the movers were certain that the school was secure, the steel beams were removed. It took several days of separate, gradual pulls to remove the beams. When the process was completed, the holes were bricked up.

The porch was rebuilt. Many bricks that were lost during the move were replaced and quite a bit of tuck pointing was required on the building. Since the bricks are very soft and porous, they could not be sand-blasted to remove the paint (while a school, it was never painted).

In newspaper articles, the school has always been referred to as the "little red schoolhouse". The GPW Historical Commission chose to paint the schoolhouse Kendall Lodge (Red) and Lancaster Whitewash (White).

The new roof of cedar shake shingles will last 60 years. With time, the shingles will turn various shades of gray. The Building Department plans to make board and batten shutters for the windows out of a similar material. The DPW solved the problem of the deteriorating cupola by building a new one based on the original. The structure was winterized before cold weather arrived.

The dream of acquiring and moving the Cook School is finally a reality, due to determination and tireless work of city employees and volunteers. In addition, many people generously donated money, time and material to the project. While much has been done, much still needs to be done.

The interior of the building has been completely rewired. A new heating system has been installed and wires for cables, telephones, etc., are in place. The dropped ceiling has been removed and dry walled. The existing walls in the shed/lean-to were removed and the space will house a handicap accessible entryway, a handicapped restroom and kitchenette.


Use of the school may be arranged by contacting the City of Grosse Pointe Woods at 313-343-2408.
Ghesquiere Park
20025 Mack Plaza
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI USA

Web Site: [Web Link]

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