12259 Beech Daly Rd, Redford, MI
Other names: Little Red Schoolhouse
Michigan State Historic Site: May 16, 1991
Demolished: April 2014
In 1874 Redford Township School District No. 9 bought an acre of land from Eugenius and Abigail Hodge and erected this school. Named Beech School, it served the Beech Park settlement that sprang up here and adjacent to the Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan Railroad. The school was built to accommodate sixty children – although only fifty residents lived in the settlement at the time – and was the largest in the township. Classes were held in Beech School until 1952. The building has housed meetings of the Masonic lodge and the Boy Scouts of America, served as school offices and storage facilities, and as the headquarters for the Association of Retarded Citizens. In 1988 the South Redford School District sold the property to a private developer.
The District paid $100 for the land and borrowed $500 to help pay for the new school. It was the only school in District No. 9 until Fisher Elementary was built in the late 1920’s. In 1938 the school received some updating, which included indoor plumbing, an electric stove, and replacement of broken windows.
Likely the oldest photo we have of the school – the original bell tower was eventually replaced with a chimney (see photos below). And although in later years it was nicknamed ‘Little Red Schoolhouse’, it wasn’t always red.
(Photo from the Redford Observer 1979)
The South Redford School District sold the school and the property to a developer in 1998 for a mere $100,000. According to the Township clerk at the time, they were assured that the school would be preserved (Group lobbies to save Little Red Schoolhouse, Redford Observer, 4/3/2014). But as talk of demolition began, so did the possibility of moving the school. The District superintendent at the time, Jan Jacobs, cited an estimated moving cost of $69,500 – $107,000. The Redford Observer reported: “He said he has offered the building to Greenfield Village in Dearborn and Greenmead in Livonia, but both facilities turned it down.” (Projected cost to move Beech School increases, 11/7/1988). Other estimates came in at less than $56,000. The school remained on the property with no further mention of razing it for the next 25 years.
The historical significance of District No. 9 School was affirmed when it was accepted as a Michigan State Historic Site in 1991. A dedication ceremony was held on October 6, 1991 to unveil the new marker. If it weren’t for the Beech School Study Committee, achieving a marker may never have been possible. The following names are the recorded names of that Study Committee: Lois Carpenter, Lin Poy, David Colombo, Sybil Raeside, James Kelly, Michael Roth, Dennis Dembs, Sylvia Kloc, Frank Rouen, and “Miss Walker.”
(Photos taken by the Historical Commission circa 1991 prior to receiving the historic marker)
After decades of trying to acquire the schoolhouse as a possible museum/meeting place for the Redford Historical Commission & the Redford Historical Society, the building finally became their home 1996.
(Photo from the Redford Observer 2002)
(Photo by Thomas Beaudoin, 2013)
But in 2013 the owner’s announcement to tear the school down to make way for a parking lot had emotions running high in the community. Without the necessary funds to move the building (now surpassing the $200,000 mark), efforts to save it were lost. It was eventually torn down in 2014.
(Photo by Bill Bresler, 2014)
The developer had a memorial monument constructed to honor the school. The historic site marker is featured on the east side of the monument, along with the name plaque that was above the school’s entrance. Mounted on the west side of the monument are photos of the school.