Tuesday, October 24, 2017

History of Lewis School in Flint, Michigan.

Lewis School is one of many schools in Flint, Michigan that have been forgotten and faded away with time. The Lewis School itself served as one of the many early educational institutions of Flint, Michigan along with many others. Flint Community Schools operated the school from 1911 to 1991. Years of operation for this school were 1911 to 1978. Not much is known about the Lewis School itself except it was less than a stones throw away from Lowell Junior High School. 

Flint School Board began devising plans to build a new school in 1911. The Flint School Board chose to build a new school on former farmland where a dairy farm that was owned and operated by the Perry family once was. Alice Moss Perry had sold the land to Flint Community Schools school district. She had previously owned the land prior to selling the farmland to the school district. The land had been in the Moss family for 200 years prior to 1900. The Flint School Board decided to name the school after W. C. Lewis, former Secretary of the Flint School Board.

Construction began in 1911. The construction period for building this school took surprisingly less than a year. Lewis School was built as a 3 story red brick building with a basement below. The Lewis School sat on a cement foundation. Lewis School opened 1911 less than 2 blocks directly across from where Lowell Junior High School currently is. Lewis Elementary School was known as Lewis School when it first opened. Lewis School served as an elementary school teaching 1st grade through 6th grade.

1916 is when the school received building improvements. The cement foundation was renovated, new windows were installed in upstairs classrooms, plumbing was installed, and old furniture was exchanged for new furniture.

Lewis School went under various name changes over the years with names such as WC Lewis Community School, WC Lewis School, Lewis Elementary School, Lowell Junior High School Annex, and WC Lewis Elementary School. From 1950 to 1991, the name for Lewis School changed to Lewis Community School.

In 1927, Alice Moss Perry had a petition she had signed by local citizens of the community in order to have Lowell Junior High School built. 1929 is the year Lowell Junior High School was built and opened less than 2 blocks from Lewis School. Lowell Junior High School went under the names Lowell Middle School and Lowell School. Lowell Junior High School operated from 1929 to 2003.

A new shop class building with a 40 foot long chimney was built. The shop class building had an underground tunnel that connected to Lewis School which served as a maintenance tunnel and as a fallout shelter during wartime. Both Lewis School and Lowell Junior High School shared this building with each other.

From 1950 to 1991, the name for Lewis School changed to Lewis Community School. Lewis School was an all-white school at one time even though black students just had lived blocks away from school grounds. Lewis School was originally planned to be an all-white school which it was in the beginning of the 20th century. By 1950, Lewis Elementary was an integrated school. Black students and white students attended this school with no incident. Integration was not a huge problem for this school.

The walls were caving in from lack of repairs and increasing enrollment in the 1960s. The walls were not sound or structurally safe. Increasing enrollment led to overcrowding conditions at Lewis School. So Flint Community Schools decided to build Williams Elementary School in 1966 to relieve overcrowding conditions at Lewis School. 1967 is when Williams Elementary School first opened to students attending the Lewis School and students living in Eastside Flint.

In 1978 is when Flint Community Schools closed down Lewis School due to statewide budget cuts and lack of enrollment which led the remaining students to attend Williams Elementary School and the surrounding elementary schools. Lewis School was closed for good.

During that same year, Flint Community Schools later repurposed and renamed Lewis School to Lowell Junior High School Annex. Lewis School severed as an annex building for Lowell Junior High School. This lasted from 1978 to 1991.

By 1988, the school building serving as an annex building sat deteriorating from years of neglect and lack of maintenance. Walls were reported to be caving in from a lack of maintenance. The building would then become a storage building for maintenance owned by Lowell Junior High School known as Lowell Junior High School Annex. From 1988 to 1991, Lewis School was still known as Lowell Junior High School Annex.

By 1990 however, the administration of the school board for Flint Community Schools decided to demolish Lewis School as a cost cutting move to relieve the budget for the school district. Plans to demolish Lewis School came out of the blue. This unannounced move did not bother the community.

1991 is when Lewis School was demolished due to structural problems from lack of maintenance.  Lewis School was also demolished to save on resources and utilities. The administrative decision to close down Lewis School was an unplanned move. Many residents were not notified. Few were saddened by this. Others didn’t seem to much care.

The only building structure that remains of Lewis School is the shop class building with the giant 40 foot chimney which also was a part of Lowell Junior High School. The shop class building is where trash was burned. Lewis School shop class building lays in an unverifiable state or ruin as a result from urban decay. Plywood has been installed on several window panes and window tiles to prevent vandalism and fire. The underground tunnel located beneath the shop class building has been filled with cement and is no longer accessible. All access points have been blocked.

All that remains is the square asphalt ground that was once where the school building was located along with the asphalt parking lot covered by grass which has crumbed from weathering effects overtime making the parking lot ground uneven. The concrete structures haves decayed and crumbled from urban blight. Basically all that remains is the ground and square frame structures. All infrastructure has been demolished.

WC Lewis Elementary School was located at Franklin Avenue & Colorado Street, Flint, Michigan, US 48506.

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