Saturday, September 11, 2010

Homedale Elementary School, R.I.P.

It appears the arson spree in Flint has finally claimed Homedale Elementary School. Kristen Longley of The Flint Journal reports:
An early morning fire has destroyed the former Homedale Elementary school, fire officials said. Flint firefighters were called to the vacant school at the corner of Davison Road and Iowa Avenue at about 3:30 a.m. today to find the building engulfed in fire with flames shooting through the roof, Flint Battalion Chief Theresa Root said. The second and third stories collapsed into the basement, she said. The building will be monitored 24/7 by a security team until it can be torn down because of a possibility more walls could collapse, she said.
Go here for video of the fire on ABC.

Here's a moving tribute to Homedale, where my mom attended grade school, that ran on Flint Expatriates on October 7, 2008.

Flint’s Homedale elementary as it appeared from the corner of Davison Road and Olive Avenue in 1940. The west playground (foreground) was used for gym classes that featured soccer, 25 yard dashes, occasional softball and kickball games and after school marble tourneys. Evenings and all summer long the playground was the site of highly competitive neighborhood softball games. The east playground (not shown) was reserved for the younger children who spent recesses playing jump-rope and tag. The east playground did have some small hills where, during the winters, boys learned to ski – without skis. Those hills also served as “bunny hills” in preparation for sledding at the Kearsley Park hill.

A Flint Expatriate Returns to Homedale School
By John Mennear

On the first Tuesday of September, 1940 my mom adjusted my brand new clothes, slicked my hair, and walked me to my first day of formal education – kindergarten at Flint’s Homedale School. Homedale was already an east-side institution. My own mom and dad had received their elementary educations there and now my older cousins were enrolled. But on that particular day, despite parental enthusiasm about my going to school (enthusiasm I was certain was faked for my benefit) I was not ready for academe. Oh sure, they had regaled me with how much fun it was going to be. I would meet new friends and learn to read. Nonetheless, it all seemed a terrible plot to be rid of me. Hadn’t I heard stories about a little fellow who had been put in an orphanage? What a dreadful existence he had endured! What was going to happen to me if I entered that big red brick building?

That first day was hard on mother too. With other apprehensive moms she watched through a classroom window in the hall as the little ruffians, most just as frightened as I, discovered the wealth of toys at our disposal. Oh, the joy! But wait just a second, hadn’t that little wooden boy with the long nose been duped into thinking Pleasure Island was a fun place too?

Eventually, although my vision was blurred by tears, I spied the most glorious apparatus any boy could hope to see. I had never before seen one and only later did I learn that it was called the jungle gym. Of course, to me it was a jungle Jim which made no sense but that first glimpse was all I needed to get the day and, therefore, my entire academic career, off on the right foot.

In June of 1947 I took my leave from Homedale to attend Lowell Jr. High then in later years, Flint Central. Going back to visit Homedale seldom crossed my mind and today I regret to say that it took me 55 years to actually do it. And I’m glad I finally did it before it was too late.

When I re-entered the old school in 2002, I was stunned to see the same shiny oaken floors I had first trod in 1940. Why, could it be true that I even smelled the aroma of the sweeping compound janitors had spread on the floor each day at the close of classes?

A Homedale hallway in 2002. Note the gleaming oak wood floors. What a magnificent job of caring for School Board property. The lockers had been added since 1940 but the ceiling lights appear to be the same ones that lit the way for the author during the 1940 school year.

In 1940 Homedale had a wonderful auditorium where the sixth graders put on their annual spring play and the entire school participated in the Christmas show. Yes friends, we dared to call it a Christmas show in those days.

Every Homedale kid took, for 2 or 3 years, a class called auditorium. There, each week, we were obliged to step on to that stage and recite a poem, sing a song or give a dramatic reading. Looking back at the experience I know it was one of the most valuable classes I ever took — and I was only 10 years old! Thank you Mrs. Peak.

The auditorium was still there in 2002, exactly where I had left it, but it was not nearly as large as I recalled. But still, had I been blindfolded and dropped into one of the seats, a single glimpse would have let me know exactly where I was.

The Homedale auditorium in 2002. During an earlier era Homedale students were entertained by Sergeant Wilburn Lagree, the “Singing Cop” and his accordion playing side-kick Don. Flint’s Attic Players, a group of amateur adult actors also used the auditorium as their home stage.

Homedale’s gymnasium was a special place for the east side kids. During World War II, when both moms and dads worked at the Buick, Chevy or AC, we were allowed to enter the gym before school opened so we could play dodge-ball. The daily games in that well-warmed gymnasium assured that every boy would begin the school day with sweat-moistened shirts and sweaters. Gosh, we must have been a smelly gang by the end of the day. Unfortunately, during my visit the gym was no longer in use and it had been locked for years.

Tommy Ing was the all time best player who ever blistered my hide in a game of dodge ball. Tommy was a 5th or 6th grader and we adoring younger kids were terrified when he had the ball. Mrs. Schwartz ran the gym and in retrospect it’s too bad I never thought to thank her for letting us come to school early so Tommy could raise those glorious red welts on our skin by hitting us with that dodge-ball.

In 1940 the only student restrooms were in the basement. Each class, at its appointed time would line up — boys in one line, girls in another — twist imaginary keys to lock our lips for “quiet’s sake,” and proceed to the basement. During my 2002 visit I watched another generation of boys and girls, in their own lines, walking quietly through the halls, on their way to the rest rooms in the basement. I wonder if they will remember those walks when they are seventy years old.

Homedale boys lined up and waiting to return to their classroom after their visit to the restroom. Except for the fact that these boys wore sneakers, the scene was a near perfect throw-back to what went on a half century earlier.

In 2004 I returned for yet another visit and although it was the middle of the school year, the parking lot was empty and the doors were locked. In fact, the old place looked dreadfully forlorn. The building was deserted, windows were covered, the grass needed cutting.

The east side of Homedale School. Evidence of a parking lot that took over the east playground. Covered windows that used to look into the gymnasium where Tommy Ing reined as dodge-ball champion.

I roamed the grounds and came upon one last memento of a time gone by. Mrs. Coates had been Principal of Homedale when my own mom and dad were students there and she continued doing her job when I passed through. There still exists a small plaque laid on the Davison Road side grounds of the school in her honor.

Paint spattered and overgrown with weeds, the stone and plaque honoring the service of Mrs. Coates, Principal of Homedale School.

When I returned to my North Carolina home I searched the internet to find the status of Homedale. Because of declining enrollment this east-side institution has been closed. The building looks (to my untrained and nostalgic eye) pretty sound. I wonder if anyone will take it over and give it a second incarnation.

As an avid viewer of HGTV shows like Homes Across America, If Walls Could Talk, and Restoring America, I can only hope that one day I’ll see my old school converted to condos, or apartments, or even a fabulous one family home (as I had fantasized about back during the 1940s). Mr. Restoration man, if you are out there please hurry – time is fleeting.

One last view of Homedale School from Davison Road. What a fabulous place it was. Here’s hoping it can rise again to a new incarnation.


  1. Thank you, Mr. Mennear, for sharing your memories! I'm so glad that you were able to visit the school while it was still open. My elementary (open) and middle (closed) school buildings are still present, but my high school was torn down in the late 1980s. Does anyone know what the Flint Academy on McClellan was, before it was the Academy? What about the Open School, on Pasadena? Both are gone now.

    1. it was northern high school open school was emerson jr. high i went to garfield,emerson and northern

    2. Hello, My Name is David Cline. I was a student there 1997 - 2001. My teachers name was Mrs. Latimer. I was part of the ambassadors club. My time there will never be forgotten. I am here to get on touch with someone to gather a reunion of sorts. If anyone here attended these years, please get in touch with me by email address please and thank you. Homedale Ambassador forever.

  2. That was nice... I love hearing accounts from people on your site.

    But it's all about the building you know... the mostalgia that he has... the memories.

    You won't see me waxing nostalgic if Carman HS or Dye El. are closed down. Those schools may as well have been in trailers.

    I think it is still open, but I've always said Central H.S. would make a good Senior center... either as assisted living or just to offer programs/offices. Good walking distance to the library.

  3. hey grumkin, you might not recognize Carmen HS anymore-Its now Carmen Ainsworth and had a tremendous addition on it.

    When I was growing up, Homedale was right down the street from my doctor at Franklin and Broadway and we often visited the library or went to Angelo's after. I loved the architecture of the school, which was similar in style to Cook on Welch, which is where we eventually lived near after moving from the Root/Wood area. I hope this building is eventually used for something maybe along the lines of the school in Frankenmuth-a neat artist's mall? But in this throw away society, not holding out much hope. I see the old Brown funeral home is closed too. Someone said it might become the community center for the area-well lit for that. My SIL lived on Nebraska and Franklin and still teaches at Washington.

    Flint Academy-was the old Northern HS?? I went to the new Northern my senior year after transferring from Powers. But I knew teachers from the old one. Who ended up at Northwestern in the redistricting.

  4. Last time I drove past Carman-Ainsworth, it had a shocking blue awning that looked like it belonged at Bishop Airport.

    When I was at that school... it was cell block H... the hallways, probably did make a square, but for the most part, the blue prints from the sky resembled an H. Incredibly boring and uninspiring. Dye Jr. High had better architecture... a 50's-ish feel, but even that went to the wrecking ball.

  5. Ah, yes...the aroma of sweeping compound.

  6. Forget the aroma of cleaning compound -- how about getting a test from your teacher that was a freshly printed blue ditto sheet. The smell....the kids these days don't know what they're missing getting test printed to them with some fancy ass lazer printer. Bring back the blue ditto!!!!

  7. Rich, you need to Just Say No to freshly printed ditto sheets.

  8. A friend of mine used to steal the carbons used to make the dittos (from the garbage in the teachers lounge) for our calculus test, so he always had the test the day before.

  9. I really, really enjoyed this piece even though I never attended Homedale. How fortunate Mr. Mennear is to have had the opportunity to return to the school later on. I would love to have had that same opportunity over at Maurice Olk Primary & Donavan North Middle School (the old St. Agnes). If there is anyone out there with memories of St. Agnes school or photographs of the inside, there are a few of us out there who would love to hear from you!!! And in response to Rich Frost - I hear ya about those dittos...laser/ink-jet doesn't even come close!

  10. I attended Homedale from 1969 to 1976 and have a small "memorial" here:

  11. Kevin,

    I love your site. In fact, I posted something on it a while back. Go to this link to see all the Homedale items on Homedale.

    Are you still in Arkansas? I worked in Little Rock as a reporter for a couple years.

  12. I am glad I found some place to share about Homedale Elementary. I spent 8 years of my childhood there. From 1972 to 1980. Pre-K to graduation. Mrs. Princing was an angel sent from heaven to care for children. I was fortunate enough to have had her for 1st grade and when I went to 2nd, so did she! She has remained my favorite teacher forever. And Mrs. Hall, boy do I know my math! As a matter of fact I thank her daily on the knowledge she enforced. By 9th grade I was doing pre-college algebra! LOL! The smell of lunch cooking in those foil pans rolling up the hall, and the seemingly long bouts of play time in that wonderful yard. Oh, the innocense of a child enthrawled in a life of love and happiness. That is how I remember my childhood at Homedale and at home on the corner of Belle and Olive in a single family on the corner. I love that building and all the memories I hold dear. I would love to get some yearbook pics from back then...

  13. I LOVED reading about the memories from Homedale. What makes that school so special - more so than any other school I attended?

    My years were from 1961 to 1968. I remember Mrs. Helber for kindergarden, you know...the really big room on the first floor, later to become the library. From there, Mrs. Howey, Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Chrisman, Mrs. Traver, Mr. Field, Mr. Griest. Of course, Mrs. Pagel for art, Mr. Fiedler for music, Caswell for math, Weber for gym!

    I would run home to Bennett Ave for lunch and catch the Donna Reed show and Dick Van Dyke show while eating chipped beef gravy on toast, or tomato soup. On the last day of school, we could bring a guest. I always brought my sister who was not yet school age.

    I think I was in first grade when President Kennedy was shot, and I believe school was ended early that day - I remember being upset walking home!

    The girls basement bathroom always had globs of wet hand toweling stuck on the ceiling (I'm sure I had no part in that!!) The boiler room across the hall from the bathroom door was always a scary, dark place that was full of monsters!

    We would rollerskate in the "old" gym after the new addition was built with a new gym.

    Anyone attend "Camp Learn-A-Lot? I still have my certificate dated July 29, 1966. It was a summer program and ran for a week (I think..). Everyday, you chose the class you wanted to attend for the day, arts and crafts, cooking, junior homemaking, woodworking, etc. I tried to post a scan of my certificate here, but I can't seem to make it work right. I also scanned "My Do and Learn Book" covers to share here. Oh well, it's so great to just share the memories.

    Anyone interested in hooking up with old classmates needs to visit and register. There aren't too many people registered from Homedale. I would love to hear from someone in my era there!!

  14. Tommie Girl. I have a few yearbooks at http:\\ and need to dig around and find my others.

  15. I am so excited to see any information at all on my dear old friend homedale! I attended homedale in the early 80's and was there from pre-k all the way to 6th! I cant express just how many memories i have of this school! I too remember so vividly the smell of the floors and the way they sounded! I remember the restrooms in the basement with the giant round concrete sinks, we would stand around them in a circle and sing songs or summons ghosts because of course as children we assumed the big eerie school must have been haunted lol! I remember having lunches in the big cafeteria and how the treachers would walk around us making sure that we ate every bite! Mrs. cummings was a stickler on that! My very favorite memory is that of the Auditorum! I could cry talking about it! This was such a special place to get to go! I loved sitting in the belcony,it made us all feel so special! I can see the stage and beautiful floors along with the gint red velour curtains that hung so perfectly! Getting called to the stage to accept an award or getting up there to show our stuff as we sang songs learned in the basement in music class! Oh music i remember singing the hills are alive over and over until we knew it just right! Does anyone remember the big cement turtle out on the playground? Or the flag pole where the after school fights took place? lol! Meet me at the flag pole that was a saying you never wanted to hear! Ive since mopved away from flint but ive dreamt about my dear old school so many times and get very teary eyed at the meer thought of getting to go back in side for a visit! I miss it some of the best memories of my life were there the children the friends the teachers who loved us so! I am sick and so sad that i will never get the chance to do so! I think the building looks just fine and with a little tlc i hope it can be restored some day! I would hope that whoever decides to take on the project will just restore the school leaving it exactly the way i remembered it as oposed to gutting it and starting over! I have a few pictures of the school whn i attended but so thouroughly enjoyed seeing the ones posted on this sight! Thank you for an amazing journey back! Maybe ill have to fly home and peek in the basement windows if possible! lol!

    1. Girl I went there too. My name is Luckee Powell but Im looking for my back then bff Bridgette, I don't remember her last name.

  16. Well I never thought id see a picture of me on the internet before, but thats me waving in that picture of the kids coming back to the restrooms, I was about 13, I can tell because before I turned 12 my hair wasnt curly, but then poof, it happened, anyway homedale was a great school, I felt so sad when they closed it.

  17. hey Gregory, glad you spotted it. I went to homedale for one year of kindergarten. So feel free to give us any Homedale memories.

  18. This was a really great story. I too enjoyed reading it and looking at the photo's. Mrs. Princing was my first grade teacher and I remember one day losing my gloves/mittens on the way to school and my hands were nearly froze when I made my way to my class. Mrs. Princing grabbed my hands and could see how red and cold they were and blew on them and rubbed her hands on mine until they were thawed :-) God bless her. I never forgot that moment. I have been out of flint now for 14 years and I sometimes dream about that school... I had such good memories there. I think I graduated around 1982. I was just reading the comment about the Ditto paper and it is the first time I ever thought about that until this moment and I swear i could smell the paper :-)

    I remember when my friends and I all thought that the Auditorium was does anyone remember Mr. Breznie? He was the corporal punishment teacher. I got swatted for brining packets of kool aide to school.... can you imagine the kids today dealing with that... they have noooo idea!
    Anyhow, what a fun topic. So happy to find it.


  19. I attended Homedale off and on in the 1970's. Ginger, You got swats? I had to think for a minute and yes I remember girls getting swats. We come from a different time!!! I remember Mr Breznie & I remember Mrs Hall as downright mean. I always thought she had upside down glasses. lol. I remember scaling the flag pole. Got swats for that. I can remember stopping at gypsy jacks on the way to school. My parents thought we werent "safe" around him. He was nioe and never inappropriate. I also remember the half circle sinks in the basement bathroom. Were they original from when homedale was built???

  20. Hey my name is christina, I also went to homedale to. I read u story about the school and i also wish that the school was still up and going. The last time i was down i didnt know that the schoo had been shut down untill someone that i knew told me. Um I know u don't know me but i was just wanting to know if u knew how to get ahold of old teachers if not thats ok but if u do here is my email thank

  21. All of these stories are great! I too attended Homedale, it was the funnest and best time ever. Mr. Breznie was my favorite, he may have partook in swats, but he was a great mentor for children. Playing sports at Homedale was fun as well. I remember the chant the boys hockey team would say..."here we go Homedale, here we go"! While pounding their hockey sticks on the ground. Washington used to be our rivals for the girls Bball times. One of my brothers and I would sneak out during lunch and go down to Lewis street to El Monterey's and eat lunch. I'm cracking up...Gypsy two brothers actually popped up a tent on his property, with his approval, and camped out one night. Those were great times back in the 70's and 80's on the Old Eastside of Flint. I was saddened many years ago when I drove through town to show my children my old elementary school and it was closed! Thank goodness for memories...

  22. Camping in Gypsy Jack's yard! That sounds like a real adventure. Thanks for the comment.

  23. homedale get burned down 330 am

  24. I'm sorry to say this but the school has now been destroyed by fire, just today. I'm glad you saw it though, because now it really is too late. They have to tear down the building. Hope you cherish your fond memories there.

  25. RIP Homedale
    Opened in 1918- Closed in 2003
    Destroyed by fire 11Sept2010

  26. I glanced at this lovely memoir and failed to notice that it had been written in 2008 or something... Referring to the school I noticed this at the bottom:
    "Here’s hoping it can rise again to a new incarnation.....". Well, that ain't gonna happen...there's not much left.

    I live about 5 blocks from the building - drive past it virtually twice a day, on my way to and from work (just drove past it today - about an hour ago). It's completely gutted, and, I am sure it will have to be leveled (and fast, as it now poses a significant risk for the neighborhood). I came to work with almost no sleep 2 days ago because I was sleeping with the window open and the emergency vehicles just kept coming and coming and coming. I was finally just too wide awake - I gave up on trying to return to sleep. I knew that is was something big but, at the same time, I've become so sick and tired of this crap that my interest was only marginally piqued. I didn't wake my wife, who was sleeping on the couch next to a fan (and who didn't hear anything). I was simply annoyed.

    It's like a war zone on Flint's east side. After awhile you become almost indifferent in an attempt to maintain your sanity. There's a two-story house to the south of us (as in "next door") which has been vacant, now, for about 9 months. It will never be rented as the slum lord who owns the place refuses to fix major mechanical problems with the place... And he's trying to sell it for $32,000 - whereas it's fair market value is about $8000.00. They've already burned the one on the other side of the house - and we got very lucky. We have 3 dogs, two cats, and I run a large computer network from a tiny room about 10 feet from that place. If they burn it, we'll have no chance and God knows what we'll lose.

    Anyway, in a twist an old postcard, all I can say is, "Greeting from Flint - be glad you're anywhere but here....".

  27. And - I don't know if it's been mentioned on this blog, previously - but Flint has something new to "crow about", setting itself apart from any other city, as far as I know, the city has a fleet of cars which drive around - they look very much like police cars - and they're marked "City of Flint Blight Patrol". Yep - things have reached the point, blight-wise, that we actually have a municipal division called simply, "The Blight Patrol". I run a mattress warehouse for a fella from Romulus (here in Flint) and we put out about 30 little stick signs, each week, advertising a low-end, queen pillowtop mattress set. They're a violation of the City code but they've never said anything about them - until recently. About 4 days ago a "blight patrol" officer left a message on our machine warning us of our infraction and threatening us with a fine. My reaction was, "Couldn't you guys concentrate on something a little more IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW??!!". The house that was torched on May 6th, right next to mine, is just as it was on the day that it happened. Except, now it's filled with water and poses an increasingly greater threat to the neighborhood with each passing day...


  28. I worked at Homedale school a few times as a relief man in the early seventies shortly before I left Flint. It was a well maintained old school and was built to last,as was most of those built in the 1900s. Skip Harbin was the Community Director at that time and the Principal was Walter Beam. Both good guys in my book. Shame on the perpetrators who did this.

  29. I'm so glad I didn't try too hard to buy my grandma's house on Nebraska Avenue a few years ago. On the east side, the farther south you go, the better it gets, but I still see how far the neighborhood has fallen since I was little. Watching everything get burned on Davison Road tears me up, since aside from my parents' house, I spent most of my childhood on the east side. The dojo at the corner of Davison and Iowa is where my dad taught karate, and Brown's Funeral Home is where countless family funerals have been. It worries me that those will be next on the arson list.

    Though all of the crime in the city should be a priority, I do think that the blight patrol is a great idea. Attacking small problems before they become much larger is the right thing to do. I've heard more than one person say they can drive however they want through Flint, since the police won't do anything about it. Property owners feel the same way, since no one calls them out on breaking city code. It's not like police officers are on the blight patrol, and if it's a way to make money for the city, and clean it up a bit, it's a win across the board. The only losers are the people that violate the law.

  30. Well - I'm conflicted regarding those damned signs and have I've told the owner that the city can't be blamed for not wanting the place to look like a Mexican border town (which it would, if everyone stuck them around town). He insists upon using them - so that's his deal. On the other hand, try to make a living in Flint if you're not working as a teacher, a medical technician, working for GM, etc. Retail is beyond horrible; in the last 8 days we've sold any merchandise on ONE day. And some fairly large businesses use stick signs, as well - including "Clyde Burtrum Furs", "Karen's Carpets" (like 7 to 10 on one corner), and even "K-Mart".

    As I've said, I understand where they're coming from regarding the signs but, at this point, I wish to hell they'd throw some resources at filling in the hole full of water, wood, and bacteria - which was the basement of a house that was torched back on May 6th - that is about 15 feet from my bedroom window.

    That, my friend, is blight.

  31. How about opening up a few of these abandoned schools (or other buildings) once a month all day long for various functions, meetings, activities,volunteerism, etc.

    Even a building used on occasion is better off than one not being used at all.

  32. One problem with this idea (occasionally using an out-of-service building) would be that the building legally would have to be brought to current compliance with applicable codes for public occupancy, just as if it was in full service every day.

    Some closed schools might be current-code-compliant and were closed only because of excess seats and to save the cost of custodians, security and utility and heating bills. My guess, though, is that most also involved avoidance of expensive major maintenance, or even more expensive system retrofits to catch up to evolving code requirements...or would involve those expenses now, after being closed for some time.

  33. This touches on the frequent emotional and intellectual conflicts I experience when I'm back in Flint, especially when I arrive from San Francisco, where real estate is so expensive. I see all these empty buildings and houses, many of them loaded with a lot of powerful personal memories. It just seems crazy to let them just die. It seems wasteful and even tragic. At the same time, I know the economics and demographics of Flint practically demand that they come down. There's absolutely no feasible scenario that would lead to a population and jobs boom in Flint. It's just a tough thing to sort out for me because there seems to be no good solution.

  34. This is a bit tangential - which is pretty normal for my contributions - but whenever I think of Flint and it's decline I think of something which happened to me about 25 years ago. When I was a kid my Mom worked as a bookkeeper at a family-owned shoe store downtown. When the owner finally "packed it in", for good, her told her she could have anything she found in an upstairs warehouse. She brought home a box full of periodicals and newspapers that were from the late 19th century and which were in pristine condition; it was really a treasure-trove of historical documents. I was a nerdy kid and loved pouring the things. One item was a newspaper from Tonapah, Nevada circa 1867, or something like that. It had a huge headline that read, "Tonapah Population hits 200,000" with a picture,looking down on the bustling city, taken from an adjacent mountainside. The tone of the accompanying article was that, thanks to the mining industry, Tonapah's future looked
    so bright that - to paraphrase - everybody had better be wearin' "shades" (well, some 19th century version of that idea, anyway). Life was good, in Tonapah, to say the least.

    Then, in 1986 I was a musician working in Las Vegas. The band I was with landed a gig in Reno so we made the long drive north; the planets had aligned and I finally would get to see Tonapah, Nevada with my own eyes.

    It was so incredibly odd because I had gazed at the picture on the front of that newspaper so many times... As we drove through Tonapah in 1986 the population was down to only a few thousand people (as I recall) and, mostly, it was a collection of abandoned and collapsing buildings whose windows were missing and whose doors simply banged in the wind. And the homes and stores which did remain occupied were run-down, dirty, and the entire town had a depressing and repellent quality. We got some gas and I was anxious to just get of Tonapah.

    I was profoundly impacted by the degree to which the once thriving city had simply expired. Back in 1986 I wondered about the families - the community. What had it been like to watch that city die? Now I know; my old hometown has gone precisely the same way. That Flint should might ever rebound in a meaningful way is improbable on the order of the Biblical resurrection of Lazarus - it's
    not gonna happen. It's over, folks.
    In the same way that time has forgotten about Tonapah, Nevada, so will it be with Flint,

  35. Too bad we can't figure out a way to move land and nice old buildings from where they're surplus to where they're scarce.

    In a place like San Francisco, something like the Homedale building and property would have made a pretty nice condo project, with lots of land-based amenities (multi-car-per-unit parking, recreational facilities) that would be regarded there as pretty luxurious.

  36. First of all, thank you Gordy for this site. It means a lot. I was unaware of the Homedale fire until I drove past it yesterday (pizza at Luigi's and a quart of sauce from Angelo's!) and saw it mostly demolished. I continued on to see the house I used to live in on Hamilton just east of Lewis is now gone and the house across the street obviously burned. My aunt taught at Homedale for many years. Like others, several of my family members funerals have been held at Brown funeral home - sad to see that closed. Its very sad what is happening in this neighborhood. I wish there was something I could do about it.

  37. Talk about memories:
    My family lived on Illinois Ave, and I went to kindergarten in 1953. My teacher was Mrs.
    Renolds. The idea of a kindergarten must have been a new idea because it took up an entire one side of a hall. Most of our time was spent in play. The idea, in those days, was to learn to socialize. We only spent 1/2 day, and then we skipped home to mom. (Most moms didn't work.) First grade was Mrs. Weatherhead, a young teacher. I don't remember her maiden name, but she was married during the Christmas holidays and came back Mrs. Weatherhead. Second grade was Mrs. McDonald. I recall her giving me a light slap with a ruler for making my capital "E" backwards. She was a nice lady, so it's ok. My third grade teacher was Mrs. King. She would sing a good morning song to us everyday, and we would echo it back to her. She would stand at the door and we would kiss her cheek on the way out of the classroom. Grade four and five I attended another school, but returned to Homedale in the sixth grade. In sixth grade, we would line up and go to different rooms. My homeroom teacher was Mrs. Cole. She honestly didn't think that the U.S. would every make it to the moon. lol My music/science teacher was Mrs. Miller. She had a slight sneer and was very strict. Mrs. Patton taught auditorium/art. I don't remember much about her, but she just loved, loved, loved the color red with yellow. I don't recall the other teachers' names, but I do remember that we had a class called "library". I think that it was supposed to be a study hall. We honestly weren't given any books to take home, so we looked a lot of words up in the dictionary, and we also read current events from the Flint Journal. We were even allowed to read the prayer for the day. It's a shame that our schools can't do that anymore.
    Yes, those years were so simple. I remember the beautiful wooden floors, especially the hall that had a slight rise and fall because of the warp, the wooden desks which were hooked together, and the smell of chalk. I also remember the hall patrol, and I was the captain. What fun! I was able to enter the school early, put on the yellow belt, and tell others what to do. I felt so very important!
    Through the years I have returned to Flint and observed the neighborhood going downhill. I regret not asking to go inside of Homedale during those visits. The memories, however, will always linger in my mind. Our city was once great, and our Homedale was once beautiful. No one can take our memories away. Thank you for taking the time to start this dialog and sharing pictures with your readers. Did any of you sing this song at the 6th grade graduation?
    Farewell to Homedale
    Farewell to you
    We played and studied
    The whole year through
    And when we leave you
    We'll sing this song
    Fare thee well
    Fare thee well
    To Homedale School

  38. Hey, thanks for the memories and the song lyrics. Where did you live on Illinois Avenue? My mom grew up at 1515.I used to walk to St. Mary's from there when I'd occasionally spent the night at my grandparents in the seventies.

  39. im an eastsider. lived at 1701 colorado growing up. went to st marys then powers then central.moved to 1534 then 1537 bennett. my boys went to homedale from 87 to 94. my son was hit by a drunk driver in front of our house,he passed away. the school and neighborhood and all business' held a fundraiser and dinner for my family at the school. the funeral was held at and paid for by zelleys funeral home. the school fundraiser paid for the headstone only asking for a momento on the headstone. we placed a star for the star program at the school. there was a bench placed at the school in memory of my baby boy. wonder what happened to it after the school closed.we had so much food brought by people to our house it was unreal. it was a bad time for my family but such a good experience of community i have never forgotten that feeling and tell this story still when i talk about that time in my life which is still pretty often. if i didnt tell you then, im telling you now thanks to all who helped take care of my family during a time of need and am sending a huge hug to everyone. thanks again. the family of joey earegood.

  40. I student taught at Homedale in the late 90's.....I will always remember...and miss it.

    1. I know this probably won't go through. I am David Cline. One of the Ambassadors and of Mrs Latimer's class. I need some help gathering a small reunion. Homedale specific people who used to attend 1997 - 2001

  41. Man...It's been a while since I posted here, my waving hand in the picture still blocking my at the time best friends face, I still find that humorous. Well just thought I would say hi to you all once again, was a sad day when the school burned down, I rememer that iit was slightly chilly out when i was watching some of my best memories burn away.

  42. Wow...I was nostalgic for Homedale Elementary, so I Googled it and found this article and website. Going to school at Homedale 3rd through 5th grade was a bright spot in my life in the mid-1960s. My siblings and I would walk from our home at 1533 Jane Avenue to Homedale and then back home for lunch. The halls of Homedale are where we learned to “survive an atomic attack” by the Soviet Union by “ducking and covering”! Pretty laughable now, but as a kid I thought of the big brick school as a might fortress that would protect us from a nuclear blast. It’s sad to know it was taken down by a petty arsonist. Apparently the house on Jane Avenue was also burned down along with many others. I haven’t been back in decades and really have no reason to ever go back, but Homedale will always hold a special place in my heart.

  43. My father went to Homedale beginning in about 1912. He lived on Hamilton Ave. He talked about it quite a bit, but sadly, he's no longer around to answer questions about his time there. If only we had known that we should have recorded their stories about it.

  44. I went here right around 2001, I remember watching tv the morning 9/11 happen. I was 11 years old and I’ll never forget that day. Mom picked me up crying saying “We’re going to war!” I only went there for a year, then I changed schools and went to Carmen.

    1. Yeah I remember that. i was Mrs Coulter's class, before her was Mrs latimer. I remember that day too.

  45. Started Kindergarten at Homedale in 1958. We moved after the third grade. I remember movies in the school auditorium in the summer. Those were great times. We lived on Jane Ave, just off Lewis St and walked to school.

  46. I haven't lived in Genesee County since 1994, but still have a lot of family living in/near Flint. I just found out about this - I had an aunt who lived across from this school with her kids. Same aunt worked at the Viking Lounge just down the street. I know the neighborhood was never "great," but burning down a school can't possibly make it better.


Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at