Thanks to John Roberts – a long-dead one, not the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – the school around the corner from my house has been there since 1837.
Not in its original building, of course.
John owned some land in what was then rural northwest Marion County, along the brand-new Michigan Road where it crossed Crooked Creek. He granted it to the Washington Township trustee with a stipulation: it must be used for education.
And so a log building was built there, and children from all over made their way to the school on Crooked Creek. I gather that other log and frame buildings housed the school before a small brick building was built in 1891. A larger brick building was built there in about 1916 as several smaller schools consolidated. Here’s that building in about 1927, after a first addition was built – everything to the right of the entrance arch. The main entrance faced the Michigan Road.
The building was expanded twice more to accommodate students through the eighth grade in a rapidly growing Washington Township. The first two additions were sympathetic to the original building’s style. But in 1964, an enormous, modern, single-story addition was ungracefully tacked on. By this time, Michigan Road was a very busy US highway, so for safety’s sake this latest addition included a new entrance with a long driveway onto Kessler Blvd., the street on the property’s southern border.
The older sections of the building were demolished in 1983, and the 1964 addition became the foundation for a new, sprawling, single-story, open-plan Crooked Creek School. It opened in 1985.
The 1916 entrance arch remains in about its original location. It’s easy to spot as you drive by on Michigan Road.
The arch has decayed noticeably in the past several years. I shot the photo below in 2008.
All of my children attended Crooked Creek School. I attended PTO meetings there for a few years, where I learned that thanks to families moving into new suburbs north of Indianapolis, enrollment in Washington Township’s schools had been in decline for a couple decades. As a result, a few of Washington Township’s elementary schools have closed over the years. Crooked Creek seems like a perfect target for closure, as it is the westernmost elementary school in the township, and it sits on an unusually large plot of land that I imagine would be very valuable for redevelopment. Yet Crooked Creek remains open. A Crooked Creek teacher told me that the school corporation explored closing the school and selling the land several years ago – but found that John Roberts’ conditions for the land meant that it would revert to Roberts’ heirs if it were no longer used for education. Score one for Roberts!
This school is on the opposite corner from where the new Wal-Mart is being built.