Mishawaka High School Class of 1968
45 years after graduation:

Main Junior High Building Tour

Many from the MHS Class of 1968 were at Main Junior High School for 7th and 8th grades. Students fed into Main from Battell, Mary Phillps, LaSalle, and Bingham. In recent years, the school building has been converted into 32 apartments for persons 55 years old and older. The building opened for occupancy in December 2012. Eve Thompson arranged a Saturday morning tour of common areas of the building and a tour of an unoccupied apartment.

Photo above shows the basement of the old Main Junior High. On the basement level, we had gym, the gym showers, Mr. Welborn's shop class, and the cooking class with its multiple kitchens.

Photo above shows the first floor. Victoria Long, Mary Jane Dexter, and Peggy Sinkovics are standing in front of the area near the old principal's office. Looking straight down the wide hall towards the window with the two sets of stairs on either side, look to the left to see a set of stairs that led up to the office of one of two "guidance counselors." It was one of those "guidance counselors" who advised Cosimo Natali and Mike Natali not to take college prep or pre-engineering classes at Mishawaka High, because "they will be too hard for you." Cosimo and Mike are twins. Their first language was not English; thus, when they were young, they did not test well on standardized tests that measured English verbal skills. Cosimo and Mike graduated as co-valedictorians at Mishawaka High and went on to graduate from Purdue with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

Going down those stairs on the left side of the wide hall would take you out what then was the front door of the school building, where a bus would be waiting at the end of the school day. It cost ten cents to ride the school bus, and many along the bus route walked two or three miles rather than pay the ten cents.

Standing in front of art work in the main hall of the first floor, from left: Peggy Sinkovics, Victoria Long, Eve Thompson, Pam Craig, Mike Natali, Mary Jane Dexter, Cosimo Natali, Bill Hickey, Alice Marie Beard, Pete Dexter (MHS '67).

Artist is Robert Bloss, a resident of the apartment building.

More art in the halls of the building:

Artist of the above is Terry Nash. Title: "Images from St. Michael's Church and Buetter Park." 2012. Acyrylic on canvas. Suppose the real intended title mentions St. Monica's Church, rather than "St. Michael's Church"? Or is the artist intending something with the name of a church that does not exist in Mishawaka?

Photo above: From the first floor, looking down the stairs and onto Hill Street, on the east of the building. The stairs had a "going up" side and a "going down" side. And if a child went up the down stairs, it was an excuse for punishment by those in the school who had the legal right to hit kids. "Corporal punishment" was common at Main Junior High School with adult men hitting young teenage boys. Fist fights among teenage boys were common. Some might suggest that there was a correlation. The men who ruled the building never seemed to see the correlation, and so the men kept hitting the boys, and the boys kept hitting each other. By the time many of those boys got to Mishawaka High, they hated school and all that it stood for. And, sadly, many who had been hit by administrators and "teachers" just left school.

Photo above: 2nd floor main hall, looking west.

Photo above: 3rd floor. The 3rd floor was a large open area used as a dance floor, with a stage at the north end. The only classrooms were on the south side -- a row of class rooms used for sewing classes and music classes. With the renovation, the new hallway created is of more typical width for an apartment building.

Photo above: That is an inclined ramp up to the area where the stage used to be. Part of the area of the old stage is used for storage.

Photo above: Looking down from the 3rd floor, on the Hill Street side of the building.

Photo above: Art from Robert Bloss giving the rule of the building: No Smoking. No! No! No!

From a December 4, 2012, news release from the City of Mishawaka:

This property was the site of the first Mishawaka High School, which was once located in the adjacent parking lot immediately to the north. This building was constructed as a replacement and was the second official High School for the City between 1910 and 1924. Once the current Mishawaka High School was completed in 1924, this building served as Mishawaka Main Junior High for approximately 50 years until being sold to the Mishawaka Furniture Store in the 1970s. The property was purchased by the City of Mishawaka in 2009 for this adaptive re-use project. The project was envisioned to complement the surrounding neighborhood by making a residential use out of the then blighted commercial building.

-- photos by Pam Craig

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