Center Twp. District 14

Whitely

Photo taken April 29, 2021. From the author’s collection.

The United States government granted James Howell the property that the Whitely schoolhouse would later sit on in 1833. Nearly sixty years later, the Whitely Land Company awarded the Center School Township block 42 for the construction of a schoolhouse (Whitely, 2016). 

In 1901, Center Township combined the District 11 Boyceton school -a structure that the township didn’t own and had become unsuitable for school purposes (The Consolidating, 1903)- with the District 14 school. By 1903, the Whitely school was the township’s largest in terms of number of students, with 392 students taught there (Center, 1903). The school kept growing: In 1905, a new structure, known as Longfellow (School, 1905), opened three blocks west of the old schoolhouse, at the southwest corner of the present-day Doctor M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard and East Highland Avenue. That year, around forty pupils from the District 1 Priest College school were sent to Whitely, as were students from District 7 Riverside who had previously gone to the shuttered Hamilton Township District 10 school, a joint operation between the Hamilton and Center townships (Kemper, 1908). 

The Longfellow school ceased operations as a Center Township schoolhouse prior to the 1919-20 school year (Delaware, 1919) after Muncie annexed the Whitely area in 1918. In 1928, the Shaffer Chapel AME Church purchased the abandoned schoolhouse from the Muncie Community School Board for $3,500 (Satterfield, 1992). The church has altered and improved the building over the years.

In 1954, a new Longfellow Elementary at Centennial and Elgin Street was completed as the third school constructed under Muncie’s 1949 building program (New, 1954). Known as East Longfellow, it operated concurrently with the 1905 “West” Longfellow school for nineteen years. 

The old Whitely/Longfellow building closed in 1973 and the site reverted back to Center Township, which demolished it the following year in order to erect the Roy Buley Community Center (Album, 1987). The 1893 building still operates as the Shaffer Chapel AME Church, and the 1954 structure is still in use as under the authority of the Muncie Community Schools district.

References

Whitely, Indiana. Our Churches Are Our Community (2016). Jacket Copy Creative. https://whitelycc.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/whitelyhistory_churches.pdf. 

The consolidating of Delaware County schools progresses. (1903, June 28). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 9.

Center Township school census outside Muncie. (1903, May 15). The Muncie Morning Star. p. 2.

Kemper, G. W. H. (1908). Education in Delaware County. In A Twentieth Century History of Delaware County, Indiana, Volume 1 (Vol. 1, p. 252). book, Lewis Publishing Company.

School is opened. (1905, October 9). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 6.

Delaware County Public Schools. (1919). School directory, Delaware County public schools, Delaware County, Indiana 19189-1920. Muncie, IN. 

Satterfield, Ed. (1992, September 6). African Americans have long history in religious community. The Muncie Star. p. 5D.

New Longfellow School ‘on Schedule’. (1954, March 13). The Muncie Star. p. 3.

Album. Of Yesteryear (1987, October 25). The Muncie Star, p. B8.