Raisin Valley Seminary flourished from 1850 to 1908
About four miles northeast of Adrian in Raisin Township, on the road to Tecumseh known today as Valley Road, stood Raisin Valley Seminary.
The Raisin Valley Seminary was a high school run by the Friends of Adrian Quarterly Meeting from 1850 until the fall of 1908 and should not be confused with the Raisin Institute, a school founded by Laura Haviland in 1837, which will be the subject of this chronicle. next week.
Around 1840, members of the Church of Friends felt the need for a school where their children could receive a “supervised education” free from the influences of the world.
Initially discouraged, the idea eventually gained ground and the project moved forward. By September 1850, $ 1,125 had been collected and 300 acres purchased from Darius Comstock for $ 5,000.
Benjamin Seebohm, a visiting minister from England, returned home and raised an additional $ 1,124 to support the project.
The school opened in an existing building in December 1850 with Jarvis Rider as its first teacher.
Serious financial difficulties were encountered in the early years until in 1859 270 acres of land were sold and the debt paid off. The Raisin Valley Seminar found itself on a solid footing and looked to the future with confidence.
The school grew and prospered over the following years. A new 30 foot by 56 foot brick building was erected in 1863 and periodic endowments, including one from Moses Sutton for $ 20,000, were received.
Although the seminary is run by Friends, its doors were open to “anyone seeking education” regardless of “denominational or religious views”. The seminary had a very good reputation and was considered an excellent school.
Raisin Valley Seminary was a boarding school with a significant number of nearby Adrian suburban students returning home on weekends. Located just half a mile from the Detroit & Lima Northern Railroad Station in Birdsall, Adrian’s students received free transportation to and from the school and the city.
The aim of the school was to train “cultivated men and women, strong and upright, and intelligent citizens”. As such, a significant effort was put into “shaping the character and shaping the lives of those who are influenced by (his) influence.” This included an athletic program with baseball teams and boys’ basketball teams and of girls who resisted teams from other local schools.
Religious training was not neglected and students were to participate in weekly prayer meetings, led by the students. Students living in seminary on weekends were expected to attend Sabbath services. All the students participated in daily scripture reading.
A library of around 650 books and dozens of periodicals was provided, and the sciences were taught in the school’s physics and chemistry labs. The students were educated in both inorganic and organic chemistry, physics and mathematics. They even had an observatory with a modern telescope to teach astronomy.
Of course, the study of classics and foreign languages has not been neglected.
Four study courses were offered. The Latin course consisted of three years of Latin; the science course focused on the natural sciences and included two years of Latin or German; and the English course prepared students to become teachers. Elective courses in Greek and instrumental and vocal music filled the students’ schedules.
A business department was added in 1896, with courses in business mathematics and business law. Emphasis was placed on calligraphy, grammar and correspondence.
Tuition fees have been hailed as “lower than any other school”. Tuition was 40 cents per week, rooms were 50 cents per week, and boarding was $ 1.50 per week.
There was an average of 78 students each year, and by 1878 the number of students had reached 128. The school became self-sufficient and was even able to accumulate a surplus each year. Unfortunately, some bad investments cost the school part of its endowments, and a scarlet fever epidemic in the 1880s forced the school to close for short periods.
The poor harvests and the opening of public schools caused a drop in enrollment from which they never recovered.
The Raisin Valley Seminary closed in the fall of 1908. Its closure would have been “greeted with regret by many, even outside the circle of immediate friends of the school.”
The building was demolished in 1909-10 and the furniture of the Raisin Valley seminary was put up for public sale on January 25, 1910. Nevertheless, the school spirit survived and, in January 1910, former students of the seminary from Raisin Valley formed a boys’ basketball team. called the North Adrian basketball team.
A sports headline in The Daily Telegram for January 27, 1910 read “Raisin Valley Defeated” as the team lost to Adrian High School by a score of 50-17.
Bob Wessel is vice president of the Lenawee Historical Society and can be contacted at [email protected].