Through collaborative efforts of the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame and Covenant HealthCare some notable pieces of Saginaw history have been preserved and will soon be on exhibit at the Castle Museum.
North School, located just west of the Covenant campus, was opened in 1922 and was the academic home to tens of thousands of Saginaw students. However, by 2004 the aged facility became too costly for the Saginaw school district to maintain and operate. When the building was shuttered, school district officials removed usable furnishings and equipment, and permitted the Castle staff to take some historical items.
This year, Covenant purchased the building from the district for $325,000 to raze it and assist in the elimination of vacant structures in the Covenant neighborhood. Following the purchase, Covenant representatives contacted the team at the Castle Museum and the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame to evaluate the possibility of salvaging additional historical artifacts.
“All too often, important artifacts have been lost to history when buildings are razed because no one took the initiative to call in historians to salvage objects beforehand,” says Castle Museum President and CEO Ken Santa. “In this case, the right protocol was followed and we are grateful we were able remove a number of artifacts before the structure was demolished.
Covenant opened the building for representatives from the Hall of Fame and the Castle Museum to survey what was left inside that might have historical significance. The team went in and retrieved a number of artifacts. The find included a plaster statute of Abraham Lincoln that North School students purchased in 1927 as a tribute to the late president, and major sports items that will eventually have a prominent place in the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame exhibit at the Castle.
“Because of Covenant HealthCare’s generosity, a group of our board members was able to get inside North Middle School and retrieve some unique artifacts,” said Jack B. Tany, president of the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame. “We retrieved both glass basketball backboards and rims as well as the scoreboard. Additionally, we had several people who worked about three hours to cut out a 12’ x 12’ section of the basketball court which included North’s burgundy “N” at center court. The boards were removed one by one and numbered so they can be assembled at a later date. Items like this are worthwhile since they just can’t be duplicated,” noted Tany.
The Sports Hall of Fame room at the Castle Museum is completed. The Hall of Fame board is currently in Phase II of fundraising efforts to build the actual displays. Tany estimates a late spring opening for the Sports Hall of Fame museum room.
“We are very glad that the Castle Museum historians and the folks at the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame worked with us to retrieve these important parts of our past,” said Covenant President and CEO, Spence Maidlow. “As we work to make our neighborhood safer and more attractive, it is nice to know that we have also helped preserved an important part of Saginaw history.”
Demolition of the building is expected to begin in mid to late January, 2014. In the spring, Covenant will grass the area for a park-like appearance.