Burdick Street School/McKinley Elementary
Burdick Street School
In 1885, the school board set aside funds for the construction of a new school to serve students located in the southern portion of the city. Situated at 1700 Burdick Street (southwest corner at Emerson), the Burdick Street School was a stately, late nineteenth century school that taught kindergarten through 8th grade. The Romanesque Revival building had a square facade adorned with an arched entranceway, a gabled roof with dormer windows, stone details, and a second story balcony. Kalamazoo’s population continued to grow during it’s first fifty years, resulting in a school-building boom in the expanding neighborhoods. Completed in 1886, the building was substantially modified in 1924. Architects Billingham and Cobb designed for the addition of more classrooms, an auditorium and a gymnasium. The rebuilt school was completed by builder A.J. DeKoning. The building was torn down in 1940.
The Burdick Street School was renamed McKinley Elementary, after the slain President in 1924. In 1940, the elementary school was rebuilt by Henry Vander Horst and designed by M.C.J. Billingham. It stood for another 48 years, closing as a school in 1980 due to reduced student enrollment. Later, it was demolished after discussions between community stakeholders in the early 1980’s failed to lead to a successful plan to repurpose the old school. The Salvation Army building, which stands today at the site, was built in 1991.
“Dear McKinley, dear McKinley,
Soccer, baseball never fail
Wear the color at the track meet
Three cheers for them all”
–McKinley School chant
Article written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, March 2022. Last updated 13 July 2022.
“City Weighs Chance to Buy Vacant School”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 2 February 1982, page A3, column 3.
“Saying Goodbye to McKinley School”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 14 April 1988, page A13, column 1.
“McKinley School Was a Burdick Street Landmark for Years”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 9 February 1998, page 6, column 2.
Kalamazoo Lost & Found, Lynn Smith Houghton and Pamela Hall O’Connor (H 720.9774 H838)
Local History Room Files
Subject File: Kalamazoo Public Schools–McKinley School