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Hicks School Move and Restoration

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The Hicks one room school is located near Pinckney, MI.  The timberframe structure was built in 1849 and represents one of the early original schools in the state.   However, the property where the school is now located has recently been slated for new construction.  Luckily, instead of just tearing down a fixture of the community that has served area residents for nearly 170 years, the owner generously offered the building to anyone willing to move it and preserve it.  Having just spent considerable resources restoring the exterior of an 1855 Greek Revival home listed on the National Register of Historic Places, I have committed to moving and restoring the Hicks one room school.  It will be moved to our property, known as the Warner farm in Brighton, MI, and located behind the historic homestead. 

The farm was started in 1841, by Timothy Warner, a pioneer from Livingston County, NY.  Among holding a number of civic and goverment roles in Brighton, he was a prominent farmer and is also noted for serving on the committe to give the town its name at just age 19.  Timothy continued to add property the to the farm and by 1875 was the 11th largest landowner in the county.  The sesquicentennial farm is now in its sixth generation of ownership and celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.  Restoration of the exterior of the 1855 Warner homestead has been selected for an award by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network.

The Warner farm has been the focus of archaeological research for the past 9 years.  Tens of thousands of 19th century artifacts have been recovered.  The farm is one of the few, if only, sites excavated by a direct descendant in MI.  Results of historical and archaeological research have been published in various periodicals such as Michigan History magazine, the Chronicle, and the Michigan Archaeologist.  Presentations on our research have been given around the state.  Students from 6th grade to graduate students from schools and univesities across MI have participated in excavation and lab work to learn archaeological methodology and help with research.

The Hicks school is a 19th century architectural treasure with its hand hewn tamarack rafters, quartersawn oak roof decking, square nails, oak beams, rough cut studs, much of the original siding intact, and wood flooring.  The original slate blackboard still hangs at the back of the school.   A window will be placed in the ceiling so that details of its construction can be viewed.  It is not without condition issues, though, and is in need of expert repair by a restoration specialist in many areas.  The building will be restored with period correct materials and will be used for traditional arts such as wheel thrown pottery and weaving.  Artifacts from the dig will be put on display. 

Below is a link to an article that appeared in newspapers around the US in December:

All donations will be dedicated to the costs of the move and restoration of the school.  The total cost of the project to prepare, move, and restore the school is estimated to be around $50,000.  We are soliciting help for half of the total cost.  Several kind residents have already donated or committed to donate original items from the school such as the lamp globes.  The roof has been removed to facilitate transport along 19 miles of back roads to pass below overhead wires and an overpass.  Once relocated, the original building members will be reinstalled along with a new roof. 

The school  served students until 1972 and has been the object of discussion and reminisces for many area residents.  Please help support the relocation and restoration of this historic building!


Kerry Schotter Bennett
Putnam Township, MI

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