|The Red Brick School hours
The Red Brick Schoolhouse is available for
school field trips, meetings, special gatherings,
genealogy research and weddings. It is open
June-October during the 2nd Saturdays, 11-3pm.
Call 810-765-8879 for info or to schedule a
private tour for groups or families.
This building stands on land from a grant made to Andrew Westbrook before Michigan became a State. The exact age of the school is not known, however, this brick school was in use when East China Township was chartered in 1859. Records found in China Township indicate there was a school on this site in 1823. This building was in continuous use as a school until 1954 when the elementary school on Meisner Road, now used as an administrative office, was built and one room schoolhouses in the Township were closed. Restoration of this building was funded entirely by East China Township with the intention of preserving its oldest public building as a living museum.
The entry is typical of early schoolhouses. It served as a wind barrier, since most schools had only one entrance. On either side are coat rooms, one for boys and the other for girls. Wooden pegs, similar to those used in 19th century schools, are set beneath a shelf for lunches and books.
The wooden students' and teacher's desks replicate furniture of early schools, some of which had dirt floors. The platform raised the teacher above the students' desks and also provided insulating space above the cold floor. A foot warmer, like the one beneath the desk, was often necessary. A recitation bench is at the front of the students' desks.
All blackboards are of slate with the exception of the large board on the west wall and the one on the east wall. These were discovered by the carpenter under wall paneling and are probably original to the building. They are of Michigan pine, milled one-inch thick and 24' to 26' wide. These painted boards were common in early schools.
The wood stove would have supplied the only heat for the building. Originally, there would not have been lights in the classroom. Many schools added windows on the east or south in order to provide sufficient light during fall and winter months.
The small room now used as an office was added after the main school was built. People in the area who remember attending this school report its being used as a library, a chat room for beginning readers, or a recitation room for older children.
There is a Michigan basement (not full height) under the main room. Heavy oak, hand-hewn beams support the floor. Some of the collection of material from one-room schools which joined the district were found in the basement. Included are hand written teachers' contracts dating from 1863, records of school board minutes from the late 1800s, census records, and the deed to the site of this school from an heir of Andrew Westbrook and recorded in 1868.