Mt. Pleasant Township’s old Center schoolhouse site

I’ve probably driven past the First Freewill Baptist Church at the corner of Nebo and Cornbread roads east of Yorktown twelve thousand times. When I was a kid, my family always got calls for the pastor since he and my stepdad shared the same name! The building isn’t that interesting from an architectural standpoint but I’m highlighting it here today because it sits on what was once the site of Mt. Pleasant Township’s District 7 schoolhouse. Locals knew it as the Center School.

First Freewill Baptist Church, built on the site of the old Center Schoolhouse, as it appeared on April 10, 2021.

William Daugherty deeded a portion of his land to the trustees of Mt. Pleasant Township to build a schoolhouse on July 2, 18561. The first District 7 schoolhouse was probably a frame building paid for by funds disbursed after Indiana ratified a new constitution that provided for the basics of a township-based, common educational system2. By 1880, Delaware County was home to nine schoolhouses. From District One to Nine, they were commonly known as NeboAntiochLincoln, Sycamore, Walker, Liberty, Center, Yorktown, and Kilgore. That year, classes at the Center schoolhouse were taught by Edward Tuhey3.

The school as it appeared on the 1887 Griffing, Gordon, & Company atlas of Delaware County.

I have no idea how the schoolhouse got its colloquial name since it sits about three miles southeast of the center of Mt. Pleasant Township. At any rate, I imagine that the brick iteration of the District 7 schoolhouse was built in the 1880s or 1890s, ten to twelve years before the townships of Delaware County began consolidating their smallest rural schools in favor of larger structures. In Mt. Pleasant Township, the first schoolhouse to close was Kilgore in 19084, followed by the Nebo school in 1910 or 1911, which consolidated into Antioch- then known as Cammack. In 1912, a four-room, brick schoolhouse was built at the site of the wood-frame Sycamore school5, which probably absorbed the Walker and Liberty schools the following year.

A reunion of District 7 students and teachers. Image courtesy of the Yorktown Historical Alliance.

The Center schoolhouse closed in 19196. After it was shuttered, the building was converted into a home in a process that carved a second story out of the school’s tall classroom. In 1965, the Free Will Baptist Church began meeting there7. By 1969, work had started on the erection of a new sanctuary around the old schoolhouse. The school was torn down in 1970 after the L-shaped church was completed8.

The site of the District 7 school in 1967 and 2023.

Center wasn’t the last of Mt. Pleasant Township’s schoolhouses to consolidate. The Lincoln schoolhouse in District 3 closed in 19249. Facing dwindling attendance due to its rural location, officials shuttered the four-room Sycamore school after the 1935 school year. The Cammack school finally closed in 1936 as the final schoolhouse in all of Delaware County to consolidate10. In 2023, four of Mt. Pleasant Township’s schools, including Lincoln and Cammack, are still standing. The foundation of a fifth can still be seen as well.

The site of the four-room Sycamore school, as seen on April 5, 2021.

Of Mount Pleasant Township’s demolished schoolhouses, Center presents perhaps the most compelling evidence of its existence thanks to the church’s design. Although practically nothing marks the location of the old Liberty schoolhouse, the Sycamore and Walker school sites can still be identified by the groves of trees that once surrounded them.

Sources Cited
1 Delaware County, Indiana. (1856, July 2). Deed Book 18. p. 60.
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 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 (pp. 268–269). book, Kingman Brothers. 
4 Delaware County Public Schools. (1907). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1907-1908. Muncie, IN. 
5 History of the Mount Pleasant Township School System. (1956). Delaware County Historical Alliance. p. 1.
6 Delaware County Public Schools. (1918). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1917-1918. Muncie, IN. 
7 Greene, D. (1969, September 26). Seen and Heard in Our Neighborhood. The Muncie Star. p. 4. 
8 (See footnote 7).
9 Delaware County Public Schools. (1923). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1923-1924. Muncie, IN. 
10 Delaware County Public Schools. (1935). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 1935-1936. Muncie, IN. 

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