I need a cord of wood carried to the third floor!
History is a fun thing, but it is even more fun if you can look at it and reach out and touch it. We have a few buildings in our area that fit the bill. One of them is the Colon Seminary building. Before you start getting ideas, pay a visit to the dictionary. This is one of the words that have changed a bit in meaning over the years. For our purpose, the meaning is simply “a school of higher education.”
So there really was a seminary in Colon. It began in 1858 from donations by H. K. Farrand, Phineas Farrand, A. J. Kinne, Charles Miller, W. F. Bowman and Adam Bower. Many of the graduates of the school became schoolteachers.
The number of students increased so rapidly that in 1863 (during the Civil War) a new brick building was erected at a cost (including land) of $9,000.
Dedication was on August 20, 1863 and Judge J. Eastman Johnson delivered an address. Elias Cooley Jr. was the first teacher in the new building.
That building still stands today. It is the center portion of the old Lamb Knit Goods factory, later called Woodcrafters, and now practically abandoned. The original seminary building was thirty four by seventy feet and three stories high. The third floor was used as a public hall for various community gatherings. As I stood looking inside it trying to soak up some history I couldn’t help but notice that there were six short chimneys (started on the third floor). That means there were six stoves to feed! Someone had to carry wood up and ashes down. There is an old saying about getting warm more than once when you burn wood (cutting being one of them). Add another get-warm session!
The only other competitor of the seminary here was the one in White Pigeon. The enterprise was abandoned in 1867. The building was rented out to the public schools until 1889 when it was sold and became the main building of the Lamb Knit Goods Company. Later on the “cupola” on top was added to facilitate addition of a freight elevator. During the Second World War the Ground Observer Corps used this cupola to track aircraft (1941 – 1945). In the fifties Operation Skywatch used it. Technology was able to replace people and the programs were abandoned in 1959. The names written on the walls of the “cupola” are a history I wish we could preserve. Lamb Knit officially closed their doors in 1971.