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Looking Back: Hamlin School

Rochester Post | Published March 18, 2020


ROCHESTER HILLS — First established in 1836, Hamlin School, also known as District No. 4, was its own school district, as were the other 11 schools in the greater Rochester area. The original wooden, one-room schoolhouse was located a mile north of Rochester and Auburn roads, across the street from the John Smith Farm, now the Cumberland Hills subdivision.

When students needed water, they would carry it over from the Smith Farm. In 1921, a hand pump was installed outside of the school, and an upperclassman would carry a pail inside, where students could use a handled cup.

In the early 1900s, the population the greater Rochester area was growing, and many local schools were building new buildings.

In 1927, a three-room brick school, shown on the right in the photo, was built to replace the wooden structure. At this time, 45 students in grades one through eight attended the school. During the early 1930s, students could bring potatoes from home on Fridays and the janitor would cook them on the ledge of the furnace for their lunch.

Funding for rural schools, such as Hamlin, became difficult, and in 1949, Hamlin combined with several other schools in the area to create Rural Agricultural School District No. 5. With more resources available, the brick schoolhouse received three additions from 1954 to 1974. Early construction on the first addition is shown in the photo. Besides a three-year period in the 1980s when the school temporarily closed, Hamlin School has educated students in the Rochester Hills area for more than 180 years. You can check out this photo on the Oakland County Historical Resources website,

— Samantha Lawrence, museum archivist at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm