Lake City High School

Courtesy of the Missaukee Historical Society

By David Niles

The Lake City Area School District, also known as Reeder District No. 1, Fractional, has a rich and varied history dating back to the 1870’s. By way of introduction we thought it would be appropriate to recount briefly the founding of Lake City as a permanent settlement.

The following excerpts are taken from “A Brief History of Missaukee County’ written in 1946: A family named Reeder was the third to settle permanently in the County, in the fall of 1868, Washington and William Reeder, Canadians and brothers, were leading merchants of the county seat from the early seventies to 1888. The first post office was at the home of Daniel Reeder at Reeder (now Lake City) in the spring of 1872. The settlement known as Reeder was incorporated as a village, under the name Lake City, in 1887, and became a city in 1931. It has a population of nearly 700, according to the 1940 census in addition to being the county seat, Lake City is now the center of a flourishing tourist trade, with a good hotel and scores of cottages and cabins. Fishing, boating, and hunting, including deer hunting, are among the recreational past times enjoyed by both the residents of the county and the thousands of visitors who come each year.

As we shall see, the community grew and prospered, the school system strived to keep pace. As we look back, many can still remember the “good old one room schools” of yesterday. For those of us who are too young to remember, as well as for those who fondly recall their school days, this newspaper article, written by an anonymous school buff, vividly portrays an “Old Time School”:

The first school house in what is now Lake City was built sometime around 1873—it looked old when the writer first saw it, in 1879. It might interest some people of today to recall what it looked like and the equipment available. It was a board building, perhaps 16 x 24 feet in size. The boards stood on end and were nailed to timbers, top and bottom. The space within was filled with sawdust which leaked out of the cracks in the boards. The building was innocent of paint outside and in.

A narrow “entry”, as we called it, was partitioned off across the front. Entering the door in the center, a narrow aisle ran down the center to the platform at the other end of the room where the teacher had her desk.

On either side of this aisle wee desks made by a local “wood butcher”. The desks were made of planks of soft pine lumber, two inches thick, which had been planed down to a reasonably smooth surface. Desks were all the same heighth—large enough for an adult to use easily. Seats were benches of the same material and were so high that none of the older students could touch the floor with their feet while seated. A shelf under the desk held our books. Each seat and desk provided room for two pupils

This building stood on the lot later occupied by the residence of D.D. Walton. A short distance behind the school was a ravine that had water in it the year’ round. Lots of kids got into trouble, because would play on the logs and along the shore, and occasionally fall in, only to be sent home in disgrace. In the winter the ravine provided a place to skate; it was also great fun to slide down the steep bank to the ice below.

This building served for a year or two after 1879, when it was replaced by a more modern frame building, equipped with standard factory made desks. The new structure was heated by a stove which stood near the front, with a long pipe running to the chimney at the back. Quite mysteriously this pipe would fall down occasionally, necessitating closing school for the day. Some of the big boys were suspected of knowing why the pipe fell, but it is not recalled that this was ever proven.

The original building as part of a dwelling and burned a few years later.