Char Livermore sent us the link to this vintage postcard she found on the website geanologyhound.com. It’s a photo of the first high school in Cedar Springs—the old Union School, which stood near where Hilltop now stands. The postcard is dated 1916.
The school was built in 1871-72, and students from elementary to high school attended there. It was three stories in height, with a cupola on top that held the bell. In the 1881 History of Kent County, it said, “Considering the short existence of Cedar Springs as a place of any importance, we cannot but commend the public spirit that has established her excellent graded school, and erected her noble school-house—perhaps the best in the county out of Grand Rapids.”
According to The Cedar Springs Story by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, there was no inside plumbing; water had to be pumped into pails then carried up the hill and into the school and up each flight of stairs. Water was put in classrooms for drinking and washing up, and in 1922, water fountains were installed that had to be filled.
The school was razed in 1926 at a cost of $100,000, and much of the brick, timber, chairs and desks were used in the new school, which we now know as Hilltop. The bell was saved from the old Union School and placed in storage. It was later dedicated and placed at the front entrance of the school with a plaque that reads: “1872-1925 Dedicated to all those who answered the call of this bell. Presented by the Cedar Springs Alumni of Cedar Springs.”
You can also see a photo of the old Union School in the current Cedar Springs High School. It was recreated with colorful tiles in the entryway, and is a constant reminder of the first high school in Cedar Springs.