Thomas R. Marshall School, Historic Landmark

Registration form prepared by Ferne Baldwin, President, North Manchester Historical Society on June 15, 2003.

Location: 603 Bond Street, North Manchester

Narrative Description

Thomas R. Marshall School is located at 603 Bond Street in North Manchester, Indiana. The building is centered in the block between Sixth and Seventh Streets setting 75 feet back from Bond Street with the longer dimension facing the street. A wide sidewalk, two steps up from street level, leads to the main entrance and a sidewalk from Sixth Street leads to a south entrance which enabled the younger children to have a separate entrance. The building is rectangular in plan measuring 115 feet by 68 feet. An addition built in 1967 extends eastward from the rear of the original. The entire original building is surrounded by a rusticated artificial stone base.

The Thomas R. Marshall School was constructed in 1929 and named as the children wished to honor the two-term vice-president and Indiana governor who was born in North Manchester. It served as an elementary school until 1989. In January 1991, the building came under the control of the Community Foundation of Wabash County to be used as a Town Life Center. The School Board retained ownership and maintained the grounds. In January 2001, the Town of North Manchester took ownership and assumed all maintenance. In 2003 Historic Landmarks foundation of Indiana assumed ownership and will undertake restoration. The ground will remain in the hands of the town for use as a city park. The building will continue to function fully as the Town Life Center.

The foundation of the building, described in the original specifications as "artificial stone," is a fine aggregate concrete mixed with fine pieces of brown stone. This aggregate concrete is used throughout the building including the foundation, decorative work, and entry surrounds. The masonry walls of the building are a multicolored brick with dark red, purple and yellow laid in a running bond pattern.

The main facade, or west elevation, of the building is divided into five sections with seven bays: a projected center bay, flanked by a recessed section with two bays on each side, and a projected bay on each end. A brick pilaster with a flat base and capital is located at the end of each section. Each base and capital is made of concrete and has a simple projecting keystone in the center.

The centered entry, which is located on the projecting center bay, is recessed behind a shallow barrel vault, which is paneled on the sides and ceiling. The double door is multi-paned metal and glass with a multi-pane wood and glass fanlight above. A concrete surround around the entry is a major decorative feature of the building. The surround has a molded round arch with a scrolled keystone, two fluted pilasters, which flank the entry opening; each with a molded base and capital, and two decorative concrete reliefs, which are located in each corner between the round arch and pilasters. Above the arch is a decorative cornice with a molded bank followed by a flat piece, which reads: "THOMAS R. MARSHALL." Two square concrete reliefs flank the words. Another cornice tops the name and the reliefs with a dentil bank and another molded bank. On top of the projecting surround sits more decorative concrete work with a large cartouche in the center, a half-moon shaped scroll on each side, and an urn on each end.

Brick pilasters, as mentioned above, flank the surround. Each pilaster has decorative brickwork, which forms a vertical rectangle that spans approximately the height of the building. This brickwork is recessed with vertical rowlock courses on the top and bottom and horizontal stacked rowlock courses along the sides. In each corner of the rectangle is a decorative concrete square. On the second floor is a narrow metal and glass multi-pane window with a concrete sill, which flares up on each end, and a horizontal rowlock course on each side with a stretcher course along the top. The windows on the other pilasters match this description as well.

Above the projecting entry on the second floor is a metal and glass multi-pane casement window with a concrete sill, which flares up on the ends, a vertical stretcher stack bond along each side and a soldier course along the top. Two decorative concrete squares adorn each upper corner. The detail work of all of the windows matches this description unless otherwise noted.

Identical recessed sections flank the projected center; each section has two bays. Each bay has a twelve-paned casement window of metal and glass on both the first and second floors. The details on the windows matches those mentioned on the projected bay. Decorative brickwork forming a horizontal spandrel panel is located between the first and second floors. The rectangle is formed by two rowlock courses on the top and bottom with stacked headers on each side. Like the top corners of the windows, each corner has a concrete square. There are two of these rectangles, each one centered above each first floor window with concrete squares connecting the two rectangles. The pilaster on each end is the same as on the projected center section except they also have a narrow casement window on the first floor level.

Another projected bay is located at each end of the west facade. Centered are two multi-pane casement windows, one on each floor. The sills and the decorative brickwork match the other windows on the building. There is a short horizontal rectangle between the first and second floors like that on the recessed section. The pilasters also match the pilasters on the recessed section. A concrete cornerstone reading "1929" is located below the first floor window on the south bay.

A concrete cornice with a dentil bank of large dentils and a molded but simple bank visually separates the building and the parapet. The crenellated parapet wall is brick with a concrete cap. The parapet is gable-shaped in the center of each section. Also, each gable or flat panel displays a concrete panel with a different motif in each; the center bay has a partial foliated laurel wreath and a swag; each of the recessed sections has a potted Acanthus plant; and the end bays have a wreath with a shield in the center. Above each pilaster is a square rosette.

The north and south facades are identical (with the exception of a temporary ramp structure on the north) with a centered projecting bay flanked by two recessed bays. A centered arched door has a multi-pane metal and glass double door with an aggregate surround forming quoin work and a keystone-decorated label mold over a segmented arch. A multi-pane metal and glass casement window, with details that match the windows on the west facade, is located above the entry on the second floor. A decorative rectangle, also like the front facade, but narrower, is located between the first and second floors. The pilasters also match those on the front except the only windows are located on the first floor on the recessed bays.

Identical recessed bays flank each side of the projected section. There is a set of three windows on the first floor of each side. The brickwork is the same as the rest of the building, but with a soldier row connecting the three windows on the top and a rowlock course on the bottom. The second floor has the same horizontal rectangular brick pattern found on the west facade. Between the first and second floors is a set of three concrete relief panels portraying three sports: football in the center; basketball to the west; and baseball to the east. The images are framed with a soldier row of brick on the top and bottom, stack bonds on the sides, and concrete squares in each corner. The parapet wall mimics the front facade with a decorative panel above each bay. Each panel has a partial laurel wreath and swags with the same flower relief above the pilasters.

Except for the entrance the east elevation duplicates the west and is divided into five sections. The windows at the second level are the same but on the main level one metal and glass multi-pane casement window set was removed to allow for the addition. All the decorative brickwork and the reliefs on the parapet wall duplicate those on the west.

The 1967 addition attached to the rear of the original is one level only and had no decorative brickwork or reliefs. The more narrow office section includes pairs of short windows but the large end sections of the activities rooms have no windows in the south, east or north walls. There are double metal and glass doors at the north entrance and a metal and glass window of the same height which provides light.

The building was designed for seven classrooms, a library, toilet facilities and a work center. The center entrance leads into a small foyer and then to the two center corridors leading north and south to the stairways. Opposite the foyer was a small lounge area with a built-in fish pond. This lounge area became the hallway leading into the new addition and provided access to the offices and to the activity rooms. All original corridors featured glazed brick wainscoting with a soldier course along the bottom and a rowlock course along the top. There are also several original sets of three porcelain water fountains at child level.

Stairways are metal with wooden banisters only. Interior doors are wood; all windows are original metal and glass. Floors are concrete; originally all were tiled but some classrooms are now carpeted. Almost all classrooms have original blackboards. Some have original built in sinks. No permanent walls have been removed or been added.

When the new addition was added, the heating, plumbing and wiring were all updated in the original building. Ceilings were dropped and light fixtures were replaced. The ceilings will be removed during the restoration.

Narrative Significance

Thomas R. Marshall School is a significant example of an early 20th century school building intended to be useful into the future and, at the same time, an attractive, innovative building. It was considered fireproof; there is little wood in the building. It illustrates the increasing demand for education, especially for the growing population in the north east sector of North Manchester adjacent to Manchester College. It meets National Register Criteria A and C for its role in the history of local education and the development of teacher education at Manchester College and as an artistic example of 1920's public architecture. It also meets all requirements established for Two or More Room Consolidated Rural and Urban Schools in the multiple property document form for Indiana's Public Common and High Schools.

From its earliest history, North Manchester emphasized education. The first organized school opened to the public in 1841. It was the only school until 1873 when it burned. Chester Township refused to pay for a new school so the Town incorporated to enable the new entity to build a school. The first school board consisted of the Rev. Hugh Wells, L.J. Noftzger, republican and T.B. Clark, democrat, and the new school served from 1875 to 1922. In 1891, the West Ward elementary school was built in the more heavily populated southwest sector of the town. Then in September of 1922 the opening of Central High School signaled a new era in the quality of education and the level of education available in the Town.

Manchester College opened in North Manchester in 1889 and by 1910 it was an important institution for the preparation of teachers. The training school for teachers opened by the College in 1910 on its campus accepted local children from kindergarten through the elementary classes. The College students majoring in education taught in these classes. The training school was a part of the Town school system and was spoken of as the East Ward or the North Ward school. By the early twenties, as the College grew, they were unable to supply classrooms for the training school. Population in the area was also increasing and local parents were concerned.

The School Superintendent bought a suitable site for a school near the College in his own name and turned it over to the School Board when they were ready for it. Building plans were developed and bids let in June, 1928. They came in high and were all rejected. Finally, bids were accepted in January, 1929 for new plans and building began very shortly. Bonds amounting to $78,000 were sold to cover the building, all furniture and playground equipment. Because of debt limitations on the School Board, the building was built by North Manchester Building Company owned by L.D. Ikenberry, C.H. Olinger and Dr. G.D. Balsbaugh. The building was to be paid for by rent paid by the school corporation. Henkel and Hanson of Connersville were the architects. Primary builders were Charles Urschel, Manchester Heating and Plumbing and C.E. Ruppel and Son.

The date for school opening had been set for September 9 to allow children to attend the State Fair. In mid August the Marshall School chimney, which extended 24 feet above the roof was struck by lightning. The falling brick and stone cut a large hole in the roof allowing water to run into the building. Repairs were made and schools opened on September 16. Kenneth Burr, who had been teaching at North Ward was principal. Other teachers were Lucille Wright and Edith Dresher. These teachers taught at Thomas Marshall until they retired. Other teachers were added as they were needed as enrollment grew and, finally, doubled.

The addition built in 1967 answered two serious needs at Thomas Marshall School. First, the need for space for physical activities and other activities related to the enriched curriculum and, second, the need for office space for administrators. Combined in the contract let to Everett I. Brown Company of Indianapolis, were a complete rewiring, a new plumbing system and a new heating and cooling system. Only minor modifications of the original building were needed to allow for connections with the new section and no permanent walls were added or removed. Ceilings were dropped but the ceilings and lighting fixtures are expected to be removed during restoration.

 Consolidation with Chester Township and Pleasant Township was finally achieved in 1958 after thirty years of discussion. Manchester Community Schools moved to a new configuration. Central High School continued as the high school until 1960 and as the Junior High until 1976. Martha Winesburg (West Ward) was replaced by a new school named Maple Park in 1961. The new High School built in 1960 is a modern style building with a central unit and wings attached. The other new schools built in 1976 and the two elementary schools--one at Chester and the other at Laketon are not brick or rectangular but are one story of undefined style, each with several wings. Thomas R. Marshall is unique in the school system and unique in the town. There are many Victorian, Gothic, or Neo-classical buildings and residences; the College buildings almost entirely rectangular, brick buildings without any decorative brickwork or detail.

Thomas Marshall School is an excellent example of a 20th century school building. The form of the building reflects nearly all the tenants of school design of the era: an ample setback and a generously-sized site; masonry construction for sanitation and fireproofing; central corridors, so that classrooms have exterior exposure; banks of windows for light and ventilation and a symmetrical floor plan. Its system of ornament reflects two architectural currents that often merged in school design at the time: the Jacobethan Revival and Collegiate Gothic styles. Ivy League colleges like Bryn Mawr adopted the style for their developing campuses in the 1890s. Ardent Gothicist Ralph Adams Cram was the campus architect for Princeton in the early 1900s; he planned a number of new buildings in the style for the campus. American architects no doubt felt that the Collegiate Gothic style imbued American educational complexes with the air of traditions, refinement, and authority that English colleges enjoyed. By 1910, architects for local school boards were proposing variations of Jacobethan, Tudor or Collegiate Gothic exteriors for a new generation of graded elementary schools.

Collegiate Gothic and Jacobean architecture derived influence from the architecture of Early to Late Renaissance era England. The Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in architecture were marked by a lingering use of familiar Gothic forms on the one hand, and free experimentation with imported classical details on the other. American interpretations of the style adapted the cloak of antiquity to well-planned (often symmetrical) steel or concrete-framed buildings. Nevertheless, the use of contrasting brick and stonework, expanses of windows, bay windows, crenellated roof lines, classically inspired doorways, and small scale classical ornament derive from English sources, and remain hallmarks of the style in the U.S.

Marshall School has most of the elements of Jacobethan Revival. The Renaissance-inspired main doorway, crenellated parapet, and use of large banks of windows are all examples of the school's Jacobethan Revival style. One of the specific hallmarks of the style, banks of tall, narrow, mullion-divided windows or large bay windows, are not often used on elementary schools of the era, likely due to cost and practical lighting considerations. The side elevations have Late English Gothic-inspired doorways, with quoin work and label lintels. Two other architectural influences can be found at Marshall School. The geometrical brickwork is perhaps an influence of the Arts and Crafts style, while the symmetrical massing, and subtle use of pilasters to organize the facades are Neo Classical Revival in inspiration.

The particular environment of the Manchester College community meant that the clients were unusually interested in the place of Art in the total design of the school. It is clear from the minutes that this special community was determined to build for the future with what was then very up-to-date technology but at the same time build a building that was a thing of beauty.

The significance of the Thomas Marshall School is multiplied by the uniqueness of the Jacobethan Revival design in the small-town environment of 1929: the unexpectedness of finding what one local art professor has called "this little gem" as an elementary school building amid the corn fields surrounding this agricultural town. This is the only Jacobethan Revival style architecture in the town or in the local area.

When Thomas Marshall School closed in 1989, many assumed it would be demolished. However, at this time the Town Forum was meeting to consider the needs of North Manchester. The Town Forum was a creation of the North Manchester Town Council with considerable encouragement from the Community Foundation of Wabash County. The Town Forum created a Human Services Task Force to consider solutions for service groups in the area. In March of 1990 the School Board agreed to a one-year trial of their plan for the use of the Thomas Marshall School building. Under this plan the Community Foundation of Wabash County accepted responsibility for the building in July, 1991 and organized a Town Life Center Planning Board which would function under their auspices. Among the groups that rented spaces in the building were Shepherds Center, N. Manchester Historical Society, Education for Conflict Resolution, Wabash County Mental Health Association, Women, Infants & Children, Alcoholics Anonymous and Community Foundation of Wabash County which assumed the lease.

This plan functioned well for a decade with an occasional change of groups renting space. In January, 2001, the North Manchester Town Council assumed ownership of Thomas Marshall from the School Corporation. The lease to the Foundation continues and the Town Life Center Planning Board continues the day-to-day management. The Community Service Organization in the Town and Manchester Recreation Activities related to the Town government have assumed a large role in the planning group.

In June, 2003 the Town Council is transferring ownership of the building to Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. Historic Landmarks is planning repairs and restoration and will add an elevator for full accessibility to the building. When the work is completed, they plan a transfer to a non profit group for continued use as a town Life Center.

The Town Life Center has become an important element in the development of community life in a cultural period when individualism is dominant. Many of the activities there bring culturally, economically and religiously disparate groups into close and meaningful contact in a way that no other facility except schools may do.

A local newspaper article, which appeared in 1992, cites the Town Life Center as an "example of a community working together to utilize an old schoolhouse." Local Government through the Town Council, the Community Foundation of Wabash County and a wide variety of local and county non profit organizations focused on a problem, solved, it, and preserved a solid and attractive building for an extended period of service. The result is that hundreds of people benefit daily just as hundreds of children benefitted in an earlier period.

No other school building built before 1960 remains in use in the Town or in the area. The Thomas Marshall School building is in full, daily use in the community.

Boundary Description

Beginning at the northeast corner of the intersection of Sixth Street and Bond Street proceed east on the north side of Sixth Street to the northwest corner of the intersection of Sixth Street and East Street; thence north to the southwest corner of the intersection of East Street and Seventh Street; thence west to the southeast corner of the intersection of Bond Street and Seventh Street; thence south on Bond Street to the point of beginning. This encloses two square blocks in Esther Halderman's Third Addition to the town of North Manchester including all vacated interior alleys. This property includes the two square blocks purchased for building Thomas R. Marshall School and is the property on which the building now generally called the Town Life Center is still located.