John and Peggy Zachel believe they’ve found the perfect solution for the continued preservation of their historic schoolhouse.
They’ve deeded the property to the Sutton School Preservation Foundation and expect the restored one-room school will be available for future generations to visit.
The Sutton organization was founded in 2008 with the goal of preserving the Sutton School in Raisin Township. The Zachels learned of the group through a contact at the Michigan Historic Preservation Network.
The Zachels explained their desire to have the school cared for and available for guests to get a glimpse of rural American education as it existed into the 1950s. An agreement was reached and both sides are pleased with the prospects for the future.
“It’s a great honor and a great responsibility,” said foundation board member Ellen Hicks. [The schoolhouse] is in immaculate condition and has been perfectly restored. We wish to preserve the schoolhouse in a manner that honors the Zachels and their commitment to preservation, education and their local community.”
The Zachels purchased the property at M-156 and Ridgeville Road in 1956 after consolidation led to the closure of the schoolhouse. About 10 years ago they started a restoration project and enlisted the help of Jack Sampson. The building was opened to the public in 2003 and was listed as a Michigan Historic Site in 2006.
The schoolhouse will be open for touring from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 26 during Morenci’s school reunion weekend. Light refreshments will be served and tours of the building offered.
Sutton Foundation board member Abel Cooper of Leh-Nah-Weh Native American Organization will lead a dedication prayer ceremony at 8:30 a.m.
Hicks is hoping to see former students of the school in attendance that day. She would enjoy hearing recollections from the past and she welcomes them to help out in telling visitors about the school.
The schoolhouse will also be open from 1 to 3 p.m. every Tuesday. To arrange for a visit at any other time, call Hicks at 517/918-2936.
The foundation is collecting favorite recipes for a Wilson-Zachel Schoolhouse cookbook [Simon Wilson was the first property owner]. Entries should be brought to the open house or mailed to Sutton School Preservation Foundation, PO Box 133, Adrian, MI 49221.
For more information about Michigan’s one-room schoolhouses, visit the website www.one-roomschool.org.