Archived Story

Justus Gage needs plaque

Published 9:36pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Now here is something for one to ponder.
My child-bride wife and I were having a discussion the other day about schools.
My wife said Justus Gage School has a little bit of Dowagiac’s history.
She said do you know that Justus Gage is the only historic school location left in Dowagiac because there has been a school at that location going way back to the 1800s.
The school at that location going way back has been called the Ward School, Dowagiac HIgh School and Oak Street School (the one I attended for seven years).
My mother, who was born in 1891, went to the Ward School as a child in the 1890s.
I went there in the 1930s when it was called Oak Street School.
Then our two boys went there when it was called Justus Gage.
They spent their first seven years there also.
So this location has been used as a school property since 1864, when the Ward School was built for $5,000.
There may be some who would disagree with my thoughts because the McKinley and Lincoln school buildings are still there, but they are not schools anymore.
In fact, McKinley is a church.
Also, we have lost our old Dowagiac Central High School that I also attended from seventh grade until I graduated in 1948.
Here is a suggestion. Maybe it would be nice to have a plaque put on the Justus Gage building saying there has been a Dowagiac school on this cherished piece of ground since 1864 — 147 years.
Here is a tidbit, me being a well-known “pack rat.”
I have all of my report cards from 1936 up to 1948.
Maybe some of these names will ring a bell for some old-timers. My teachers included Dorothy Lee, Neva Skinner, Teresa Brechenser, a Miss White and Herbert Tag.
As we are losing so many of Dowagiac’s historic sites, maybe we can save one.
What do you think, Grand Old CIty?
I, for one, sure hope so.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
E-mail him at

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