By Jordyn Timpson
Mason Times staff writer
As summer ended and fall began, the Pink School at 400 S. Cedar St., Mason, Mich. closed its doors for the next three seasons. Open the first Saturday of every month, summer through October, the Pink School held its last public viewing on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. Located behind the Mason High School Summit Campus, the Pink School owes credit to the Mason Area Historical Society for the restoration and upkeep of the school.
Built in 1854, the Pink School was originally at the corner of College and Columbia roads in Mason. The school was moved in 1976 to the current location after the Ingham County Road Commission announced demolition plans to straighten out a curve on Columbia Road.
“The school was built when the area had farmers with enough kids to start a school district,” Mason Area Historical Society member Cal Face said. “It only took $299 to build the school back then, and it’s always been pink.” Originally, the painters didn’t have enough white paint for the school, so they mixed the white with red paint used for barns, resulting in the pink color seen today.
Face, who never attended the school, said there used to be two outhouses for the students and teacher to use because there was no electricity or running water. One teacher per term taught eight grades in the one-room schoolhouse. Most teachers stayed only one term. Each term was three months long, except for the first 15 years when there were only summer and winter terms. The terms were split this way depending on age; younger kids during the summer when walking was easier, and older kids during the winter when they weren’t tending to the fields.
Former student Pauline Gogarn said she has many fond memories of her time spent at the school.
“I remember Mrs. North, one of my teachers, taking me home with her every Friday night after school,” Gogarn said, “and we always made a butterscotch pie.” Gogarn started fifth grade in 1926 and remained there until she completed eighth grade.
Although most furniture in the schoolhouse isn’t original, Gogarn said she recognized a bench in front to be the same one she saw as a student. Face confirmed the bench to be original, but said most desks were donated.
“We used to have a dunce stool in the corner for kids that were bad,” Gogarn said, “but I never had to sit there. Kids would have to sit there quite a while, though.” Gogarn now lives in Lansing, Mich., and will turn 95 in December.
Louise Face, member of the Mason Area Historical Society, said the only plan for the schoolhouse is to keep it a museum. The inside showcases pictures of past teachers and students, authentic and donated furniture, the original slate blackboard and the rope to pull the bell.
“Upon request, schools can bring in classes to learn history of the Pink School,” Louise Face said.
The Pink School taught students for 111 years until 1965. Over time, wings were added to the east and west sides of the building, but were later removed when the school was moved in 1976. To learn more, visit the Mason Museum, 200 E. Oak St., or read a copy of “The Pink School” by Virginia Norton Schlichter.