Buchanan High School History
If these walls could talk, rings true after a century of students and staff walking through these doors of our current Buchanan High School. Friendships made in class have lasted for decades, the beginning of dreams became true, teachers and staff said the right thing at the right time to encourage students. Oh, if these walls could talk.
Really the history of Buchanan High School on this site began more than a century and a half ago. In 1871, the original high school on Chicago Street was built in response to overcrowding at the Dewey School. This first Buchanan School was built at cost of $35,000 [$40,000 according to THE PINES in 1930] with three stories on seven acres. Its mansard roof and upper story could be seen by passing trains on the Michigan Central Railroad. “It is one of the finest in the state,” was said by many. According to THE PINES in 1994, “On a cold January 12, 1872, the Buchanan high school students marched from the old Dewey School led by the Cornet Band.” The history of Buchanan High School on West Chicago began that day!
For the next fifty years, high school students studied and then graduated to enter the workforce, enter the military, continue their education and start families. It must be remembered that part of the original 1871 building still stands to the south of the current high school and the school still uses part of that building.
By the 1920s, it became apparent the stately brick building needed to be replaced due to the number of students. Thus in 1922, the current Buchanan High School building became the focus of the community. The new Buchanan High School Building was built in a style denominated by the architecture of the time as “collegiate gothic”. School started on September 11 but not in the new building, which had more work to be done. The new building did finally open with grades K-12 with high school students numbering 181. The high school welcomed students on November 20, 1922, with the completed cost of more than $200,000. This would be the equivalent of $3,256,750 a century later.
Here one will find the history of Buchanan High School arranged by centuries and decades from the Northwest Land Ordinance of 1785 which set aside one section of land to be used for education to the current decade. Click on each to discover the names of the school board members, superintendents, principals, a timeline of events, student activities and in some cases course offerings. One will also find some photos of those eras.
This is in no way a complete history of our high school or the individuals who graced these halls. For many years, it became a home away from home for many. Oh, if these walls could talk.
If you have additions or corrections, please contact the site administrator. We welcome your input.
-Ruth Writer compiled this history in 2021-2022.
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A special thank you to Phillip Place, Director of Technology at Buchanan, Peter Lysy, archivist at the Buchanan District Library, the unknown author of the Official Souvenir Program for the Bucktown Centennial Celebration in 1958, BHS students who produced THE PINES since 1923, the BUCKTEENS, Jerry Flenar, Lee Ann Smith Flenar, Jeanne Harris, Marie Montgomery Kangas, Kelly Bates Laesch, Barbara Berg Kulwicki, Don Ryman, Diana Denbow Smuda, Kay Trull, Dr. Walter Vanderbush, Janis Sexton, and Kay Welsh. Additional sources: Walter C. Hawes, THE STORY OF BUCHANAN—A HISTORY which was a series of articles published in THE BERRIEN COUNTY RECORD from 1951-1954, THE BERRIEN COUNTY RECORD, other period newspapers, Buchanan Board Members, Buchanan Superintendents, Buchanan Principals, Buchanan Assistant Principals, Community Members, and Athletic Department Records.