The oldest school in Chesterfield Township is usually considered to be Green Elementary School near Cotton and Sugarbush roads. However, it hasn’t always been located here.
At the dawn of the 1900s, it could often also be found on Sugarbush, halfway between Hall Road and Cotton Road. (At one time, Sugarbush went all the way to Mount Clemens before Selfridge Air Base cut it off.)
How could a school be in two different places? Well, if you think that sounds like the beginning of a joke, you are close to being right. It was actually moved as a prank by the French settlers to their area of the township. One night, they would move the school to the second location, closer to their homes. The next night, the Green family would move the school back to its original site. This continued for awhile, until the Green family, growing tired of moving the school back, took the matter to court. It was decided that the school should remain in its original location, the same place it is today.
The original school was named the Green School after the owner of the property it was on, Edward Green. The plot that the school was eventually permanently located on was also near a major Native American burial mound.
The first sign of the artifacts buried beneath the property occurred when Green, having unearthed many Native American skulls, placed them on the fence posts of his property. This became a gruesome spectacle for anyone passing the property, especially at night.
Soon a meeting of all the neighbors was held, and it was decided to tell Green to take the skulls off the fence posts and put them in a more out-of-sight area (which he did). Obviously, political correctness was not the same as it is today.
Today, the skulls would probably be given a proper re-burial. But then, it was considered okay to salvage Native American relics. For decades after the fence incident, schoolchildren of Green School would spend their recesses digging in the back of the school, uncovering many artifacts that had been contained within the mound. This included drawings, arrowheads, flint tools and more.
The original school was renovated over the years and finally replaced in 1929 with a brand new school. In 1950, a major addition was built, and more was added over intervening years. Another new school was completed in the 1980s, and more recently, the entire school was rebuilt in 2009. Still part of the L’Anse Creuse School District, Green Elementary is now permanently rooted at 47260 Sugarbush Road, and hasn’t been moved from that spot in more than 100 years.
Alan Naldrett is the author of “The History of Chesterfield Township." Copies of the Arcadia Publishing book that will benefit the Chesterfield Historical Society may be purchased by calling Roy or Eileen Rivard at 586-749-3713.