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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Building Hall School


published: November 1st, 2006

Hall School at the corner of Hall St. and Grandville Ave., a brick building with a slate roof, was built in 1892 at a cost of $16,500. In 1899 four rooms were added at the back of the building. The school, grades K-8, served the Grandville Neighborhood and its children for almost sixty-five years before it was replaced in 1956 with a new building at the corner of Grandville and Shamrock. In May of 1955 demolition of houses on Grandville Ave. began in order to build a new school. Starting in June progress was recorded every month by Universal Studio. There are thirty-four photographs in the photo archive of the construction from start to finish. The photo essay highlights a few of them. (Find more information to your right in Related Items)

The first photo in the series, taken June 9, 1955, captures a moment in the demolition of the house at the corner of Grandville Ave and Shamrock. The leaning utility pole serves as a reference point in the series of pictures.

By October 11, 1955, the houses have been demolished, the debris removed, and the foundation for the new school begins to appear. A clear view of the original Hall School with its slate roof can be seen as well as the 1899 flat roofed addition at the back of the original building.

Three months later, January 6, 1956, the skeletal structure of the new school takes shape. The old school is still partially visible.

On March 9, 1956 snow still covers the ground, but the outer shell of the school has been added along with some of the windows.

Two months later, May 11, 1956, the outer shell is more complete , but the real work has been going on in the interior of the building as the next photo shows.

This photo taken August 7, 1956, shows the state of the interior one month before before school begins in 1956. The hall, running north and south, would be in the section of the school along Grandville Ave.

School has begun, students and teachers have moved in, and the same north/south hall looks quite different in its finished state.


Items available at the GR History and Special Collections, Grand Rapids Public Library

  • Baxter, Albert. History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan (With an appendix--History of Lowell, Michigan). New York, Grand Rapids: Munsell & company, 1891.
  • Goss, Dwight. History of Grand Rapids and Its Industries. Chicago: C. F. Cooper, 1906.
  • Lydens, Z.Z. The Story of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1966.
  • Loretta Ortt Collection, #003, (Ms. Ortt was principal of Hall Elementary School from 1949-1967)

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