The Drake School

The Drake School in Platte Township

The Drake School in Platte Township was built in 1891 and used as a school until 1943. The Drake School is owned by the Society and is open Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4 PM, July and August. The school is located on at the intersection of Fowler and Valley Roads in northern Benzie County.

The Platte Township District #2 school, now known as the Drake School, was first mentioned in the assessment roll for 1876. Prior to this, District #1, the Morgan school, was the only school listed.

The 1876 tax assessments for the two districts were $131.21 for District #1 and $22 for District #2. There is no mention of another building and the only known pictures are of the present building. The Drake school building, though, is listed in the assessment roll of 1879, with contents valued at $50.

The school was initially known as the Getchell School, named after adjoining landowners, and later changed to the Drake School in 1913, probably when the L. C. Drake family purchased the corner property across the road from George Getchell. The school operated from 1879 until it closed in 1943 when its pupils were bussed to Honor.

The building stood vacant until 1957 when the Honor Public School District #5 sold it to Ellsworth and Ellen Esch who, later that year, sold it to Alex and Katherine Maley, Chicago residents who summered in the area. We suspect that many items and school supplies from the Drake school were simply left in the building when it was sold. Many of the desks, books, a recitation bench, several of the chalk slates, a map case and the water cooler are original to the school. The Maleys, when they were moving from Chicago to Platte Township lived in the building for at least one summer while their house was being built. Alex Maley was president of Alexander Chemical Company in Chicago and, after retiring and moving to Benzie, he formed Honor Christmas Tree Farms, a partnership with Ellsworth Esch.

In 1988, Katherine Maley donated the property to the Benzie Area Historical Society.

The Platte Grange, #1328, assisted BAHS in restoring the property to an early 1900 time period. It was rededicated as the Drake School museum on May 13, 1989 in the presence of over 120 guests, including three former teachers and many former students.

The schoolhouse, located on the corner of Fowler and Valley Roads in Platte Township, is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in July and August.

Volunteer educators offer a half-day “One-Room Schoolhouse Experience” for kindergarten through fifth grade students at Drake School May through October.  Kids experience what it was like to be a student of the time and learn about the local people who lived here in the early 20th century.  The day is filled with old-time fun and learning, giving an authentic one-room schoolhouse experience