One-room schoolhouse survives the test of time, celebrates 150 years

Ottawa school celebrates 150th years

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, MICH. - While driving along Stanton Street in Olive Township -- located in rural Ottawa County -- you'll likely drive right by it, if you're not looking for it or know exactly where it is.

It's known as the Ottawa Station Schoolhouse, and it's been sitting there, amongst the trees, built two years after the Civil War ended.

The schoolhouse was built in 1867, then moved to it's current location at 11611 Stanton Street in 1876. That's where it was a place of education for many students until it closed in 1958, due to consolidation of district schools into Zeeland schools.

After the school closed, the building was turned into a storage facility for 20 years, then it was purchased by a man named Kenneth Hepler who renovated the schoolhouse. He and his family used it as a summer cottage until they donated it to the Olive Township Historical Society in 2010.

"We're very proud of it," said Kit Karsten, president of the Olive Township Historical Society. "We hope to keep the schoolhouse useful so it can keep educating future generations about how life used to be -- this schoolhouse is our identity."

Karsten says the building is original and so is the wood floor inside. There are two doors on the front -- one for girls to enter and the other for boys to enter, because according to Karsten "that's how they did it back then."

When inside the schoolhouse, it feels like time-traveling back to the 1800s: several old desks line the floor of the schoolroom and face a chalkboard and old photos and other historical artifacts from the schoolhouse are spread throughout the inside of the building.

"History only comes by once and if you don't seize it -- then you lose it, so we're going to hang on to this and hope that future generations will embrace it," added Karsten.

On Saturday, August 12, from 12 to 3 p.m., the Olive Township Historical Society is hosting a 150th anniversary party at the schoolhouse. There will be free ice cream, as well as a chance to tour the inside of the schoolhouse, and ask questions of Historical Society members who will be on hand.

If you have any old photos of the schoolhouse, you're asked to bring them so Historical Society members can scan them and add them to the display inside the schoolhouse. 

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