Niles Township’s Oak Grove schoolhouse in Delaware County

John W. Vincent entered into section 27 of Delaware County in 18361. It’s unclear when the first schoolhouse on his land was built, but it was probably prior to the state passing a law providing resources for a free, common school system in 18522.

Photo taken April 14, 2021.

In 1874, a District 7 schoolhouse stood on Vincent’s land3 about a football field’s length south of the extant structure4. It was called the Wingate school due to its proximity to the farm of James Wingate, a cousin of Vincent’s, and the two families later held reunions at the old school5. By 1887, the schoolhouse had been realigned to serve Niles Township’s District 36 and, later, the school became known as Oak Grove7. The current schoolhouse was completed in 18898.

The Oak Grove schoolhouse was designed in the Italianate mode of architecture. It features an arched transom over the front entrance, a wooden awning, and an intricate metal vent underneath the building’s original cupola.

The District 3 schoolhouse closed in 1916 along with districts 1, 4, 6, 8, and 99. Niles Township never featured a consolidated school of its own, so the students of District 3 were sent to Albany in neighboring Delaware Township. Pupils from the other schools that closed were split up between buildings in Albany, Eaton, and Dunkirk10

Photo taken September 21, 2021.

By the 1940s the schoolhouse still stood as a community building that hosted meetings for churches, farms, and politics. It also served as a polling place or as a repository for other activities. Electricity was installed in 1946, when the building’s accommodations consisted of a large stove, a small kitchen, and several sixteen-foot tables11. Today, the building is still owned by the Niles Township Trustee. The original bell has been preserved in the cupola underneath protective siding12.

Sources Cited
1 Helm, T. B. (1881). Mount Pleasant Township. In History of Delaware County, Indiana: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. book, Kingman Brothers.
2 Natali, B. L. (2007). The Impact of Caleb Mills on the Hoosier Education Debate: An Edition of Two Unpublished Addresses (thesis). University Graduate School, Indianapolis.
3 Kingman, A.L. (1874). Map of Delaware County, Indiana : from recent & original surveys, made expressly for this map, drawn, compiled and published by A.L. Kingman and assistants. map, Chicago, IL; A.L. Kingman.
4 Oak Grove School Reunion September 8. (1940, August 30). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 6.
5 Spurgeon, W. (1994, March 1). Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4.
6 Griffing, B. N. (1887). Mt. Pleasant Township. An atlas of Delaware County, Indiana . map, Philadelphia, PA; Griffing, Gordon, & Company.
7 Former Pupils at Oak Grove in 50th Reunion. (1952, September 9). The Muncie Star. p. 8.
8 Delaware County Office of Information & GIS Services. (2021). Parcel ID: 0427400014000. Delaware County, Indiana Assessor. map, Muncie, IN.
9 Niles Township Schools May Not Open This Term. (1917, September 7). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 17. 
10 Delaware County Committee for the Reorganization of School Corporations. (1959). A Comprehensive plan for the reorganization of school corporations of Delaware County Indiana. Muncie, IN; Delaware County Committee for the Reorganization of School Corporations.
11 Greene, D. (1946, October 29). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 6.
12 Baer, D. (1988, June 4). Tour of eight historical structures is Sunday. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 13. 

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