Morenci Educ. Foundation now owns the North Morenci School 11.17.2010

Written by David Green.

zachel.mef.jpgJohn and Peggy Zachel have expressed concern about the future of the old North Morenci school house they brought back to life in recent years.

Earlier attempts to locate a group to take over the property have fallen short and they’ve been in the hunt again over the summer.

They found the solution recently when the Morenci Education Foundation agreed to take over ownership of the historic building.

Five members of the foundation board joined Bill Van Valkenburg Sunday afternoon for a ceremonial transfer of ownership at the school.

With board members and guests seated in student desks, Peggy Zachel sat at the teacher’s desk and spoke about the renovation of the school house. Much of her talk focused on a man at the back of the room, Jack Sampson, who spent countless hours on the project for no pay.

“He never took a penny from us,” Peggy said. “It’s a work of love.”

The school had been vacant for more than 40 years before Sampson got busy painting walls, refinishing the floor, rehabilitating old desks stored in the basement of the school, etc.

Peggy pointed to various items around the room and told foundation members the origin of each.

For example, the quilt was given to her by students she taught in a rural school in 1939. A library case came from the University of Michigan. The stove came from an estate sale—Peggy and Lori Drogowski scrubbed and scrubbed to get it clean.

“I’m so glad you’re taking it because John and I are no longer able to do it,” Peggy said. “It takes work. It’s going to be a big job, but an interesting one.”

Van Valkenburg said the foundation board will discuss plans for the school over the winter.

“Our goal is not just to preserve it as a museum, but to send some classrooms of kids out here to experience what school was like 60 years ago,” he said. “The Zachels have done a wonderful job.”

He would also like to contact former students of the school to talk about the recollections of their time spent there. The school was closed in 1957 when rural districts consolidated with the school in Morenci.

Van Valkenburg said a fund will be established within the foundation to help with maintenance of the facility. Some donations have already been given to the Lenawee Community Foundation and he’s hoping that money will be added to the Morenci Education Foundation funds.

 The North Morenci School Cookbook was sold out, he said, but a new printing of 200 copies is ready for sale to continue that fund-raising effort.

Routine expenses will include utilities and the cost of the security system, but Van Valkenburg would also like to acquire additional school desks for visiting students.


  • 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.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016