Zachel's school house restoration

Written by David Green.


As something grows old and useless, the typical response is to tear it down or throw it away.

When something falls into disrepair, the cost of restoration often leads to the same response as above. Let it continue to fall apart until it needs to be torn down or bordered up. There’s more than one example of that approach on display now in Morenci.

On the other hand, an example of the very opposite approach is visible when heading north out of town. It’s John and Peggy Zachel’s old school house.

A building that hasn’t been in use for 50 years can’t be expected to show much promise, and the school house on their property didn’t look like much for the past few decades. But as their son, Bob, pointed out Sunday at the unveiling of a state historical marker, John kept a good roof on the building over the years and the structural integrity  remained intact.

The Zachels’ decision to restore the old school building goes against the usual response. They sought no grants. They didn’t push to have the school adopted by a historical group. They simply made the choice to save it and make it look “new” again. With the tireless efforts of Jack Sampson and others, the old building has been turned into a shining example of what can happen when someone cares about preserving the past and plunges into a restoration project.

The old building offers a glimpse of what life was like in a one-room school house—a form of education that ended here in the mid-1950s. Now it’s been preserved for future generations, thanks to the generosity of the Zachel family.

  - June 28, 2006
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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