Schooner served as first Empire school
Empire derived its name from the schooner “The Empire” which was ice-bound in the harbor in 1865 and later served as the first Empire School.
Information with regard to teachers in those days is very indefinite. However, it was reported that George Ray was the first teacher in this area. Therefore, he may have taught on the ship school.
A few families had settled here then. John LaRue came from the Manitou Islands to Glen Arbor where he opened up a trading post and then came with his family to Empire in 1862.
The Henry Stormer, Sr. family came from the Manitou Islands in 1865 and settled here as loggers and farmers. Their children were among those who attended the ship school.
The second Empire school was located on Brotherton Road between M-22 and North Bar Lake, also known as Perry Lake, on the property now owned and occupied by the Stanchik family. The land upon which the school building was erected in 1867 had been donated by the Fritz Kreiger family. The teachers included Eliza Moran Brooder, Eva Farrant Day, Fritaz Rohr, Mary Cummings Young, and Lillian Lacore. (Hilda Moran Joy has the old recess bell used by her aunt, Eliza Moran Brooder).
This school was known as District No. 4 and was used for many years.
One of the students who attended this school, and who is still with us, is Maude Johnson Lambkin.
A new two-story school house (an eighth grade school) was built in 1891 near the railroad tracks on the property now occupied by James Johnson’s Garage.
The teachers during the first years included Addie, Clara, and Mae Pettengill, A.F. Bunting, Edna Helm, Mayme Gordon, Ernest S. Wylie, Lizzie Dunn, Mr. and Mrs. E.F. Carr, and Zabla Herbert Donavon.
Among the students attending this school were Maude Johnson Lambkin, Lula Daly Beatty, Gladys Collin Van Leuven, Elizabeth Rohr Roosa, Emmaretta Aylsworth Schrock, Anna Johnson Quinby, Thomas Gordon, and Philip Payment.
This school burned in the winter of 1898-99. Until the new school house could be built, classes were held in the Maccabee Hall (upstairs and down) near the present school building on Front Street and M-22, and in the Lacore building where Taghon’s garage now stands.
In 1900-1901, a four-room school building was erected. The first teachers were Mr. and Mrs. E.F. Carr, and Grace King Hardy.
Members of the School Board throughout the years included: E.A. Voice, Dr. L.H. Shank, L.E. Collins, James Daly, Charles Ackerman, John Fry, Marvin Lacore and John Frehse.
Harry Dumbrille was Superintendent until 1915. Mr. Evans, B.H. Van Leuven (Dr. Van Leuven), Orin Chalker, Milton Manney and John Bacon were Superintendents later.
Jessie Aylsworth Solem, Lula Daly Beatty, Richard Sullivan, Blanche Norconk, Francis Marshall Voice, Emmaretta Aylsworth Schrock, Carrie Bennett, Gladys Collin Van Leuven were also teachers in the Empire Village School.
In 1956, three school units including Empire, Glen Arbor, Maple City and Cedar-Centerville combined to form the Glen Lake Community Schools. In January 1958 the Junior-Senior High School moved into their new building about a mile southeast of Burdickville. James Reed was Superintendent.
The Empire school was closed in 1968, giving way to the new consolidated school in Burdickville.
Ed. note: The following story is another installment of our series on Leelanau County history. It was written by Lula F. Beatty, and published in the book Some Other Day (Remembering Empire) and reprinted with permission by the Empire Area Heritage Group.