George Fisher

 In the mid-1800s, Redford had 10 school districts. As rail construction attracted more and more residents to the area after the turn of the century, District 9 decided it was time to replace and improve upon its small wooden schoolhouse.

Fisher family properties. Click to enlarge.
Fisher family properties. Click to enlarge.

The District bought an acre of land from Eugenius and Abigail Hodge for $100. Eugenius Hodge had served as director of Redford School District No. 9 from 1864 to 1866, and 1870 to 1871. The land was located near the Beech Post Office and Fisher railroad station. A shoe shop, store, cheese factory and saw mill were also nearby. George Fisher and his father Abraham owned the store and mill, and the railroad station was named for the family.

George Fisher home
George Fisher home

Abraham and Lydia Hall Fisher came to Redford from New York, purchasing land around 1836. Their children were Edwin, Albert, and George. The family land was full of oak trees, which the Detroit & Howell Railroad Company used to build tracks through the town. The Detroit & Howell RR Co. organized in 1864 and probably started laying track in Redford in 1865, according to Redford: Its Heritage and History by Fred DesAutels. The sawmill – Dunning, Fisher and Rohde – facilitated the work.

After annexation in 1926, Detroit took over many of Redford’s schools. Districts in the northern part of the township consolidated and became Redford Union Schools. District 9 became “The School District of Redford Township”, later known as the South Redford School District.

The Fisher school dedication was held on October 9, 1928. George H. Fisher, the school’s namesake, presented the school with an American flag to mark the occasion. Architect Lee Bauer attended, as well as contractors Gallagher and Fleming, township supervisor Sylvester Shear, and school board members Harold Tuck, Augustine Petosky, and Clinton Jaynes. The school opened with teaching staff of only three: Arlene Plankel, Ada Watson, and Hazel Reddiman taught grades 3-8. The school became a community-gathering place for social functions such as county fairs and bazaars. Extra curricular activities included 4-H, card parties, musical programs, sewing classes, and dances.

Growth in the community necessitated additions to the school in 1944, 1949, 1955, and 1958. The school also underwent a renovation in 1976. In September of that year, Horace Mann Elementary closed and those students transferred to Fisher. Fisher became one of only 14 elementary schools in Michigan to be fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in the 1977-1978 school year. In the late 1990s, the building gained a new media center.

Fisher Elementary

The Fisher Parent-Teacher Association started at Beech school in 1926. Gladys Tuck was one of the founding members. It later became the Fisher-Shear PTA when Shear opened in 1946 until 1948, when the Shear PTA broke off into its own group.

During the 1978-1979 school year, Fisher Elementary went all out to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Over 2,700 students, teachers, administrators, and alumni were invited to a special reunion open house in May, 1979. The principal brought in the University of Michigan band to perform for students in honor of the anniversary.

Fisher 50th Anniversary Open House invitation

Our Fisher collection includes copies of scrapbooks kept by the PTA chronicling the school beginning in its early years and ledgers with minutes and financial information for Beech School and Fisher Elementary’s early years (see the gallery page for examples). We also have compiled research done by current and former Historical Commission & Society members on the pioneering Fisher family. Visit us in person to see these and our other collections – Wednesdays 3 – 7pm and the first and third Saturday of the month, 12 – 3pm.

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