How did this school become a military museum?
The first school in Montcalm County started in Greenville in 1845. The old wooden Cass Street School was built in 1853 by Joseph Hart. This was a two-story building of two rooms to which a two-story, two-room addition was later built. During the two years when the Cass Street School was unused, part of it was sold and moved to E. Grove Street near the railroad where it became the Eagle Hotel.
In September 1871, two primary rooms were opened in what remained of the Cass Street School. The year 1895 marks the first attempt at kindergarten work. (This was four years after the legislative act was passed making kindergartens permissible on taxation, but a local matter with the school districts.) Under the suggestion of Superintendent N. A. Richards, $250 was appropriated to buy kindergarten tables, chairs and other equipment for the primary room at Cass Street School.
It was used until 1902 when it was moved and became a duplex on W. Orange Street. The new building, constructed in 1902, a four-room red brick structure, was provided with furnace heat and electric lights. The contractor was Mr. Edward Backus who did the work for $5,000. This was used as a school until 1950 when, condemned by the State Fire Marshal, it was turned over to the city to be used as a public library with the proviso that the city maintain the playground. This remained the public library until November 5, 1967. The property was then returned to the public school system to be used as the Board of Education offices.
From the one-teacher school in 1845, the Cass Street property was used for educating students in one form or another for one hundred forty-seven years. The Cass Street School began serving the educational needs of the children just eight years after educating students became a primary focus of the citizens of Greenville.
When the Board of Education vacated the Cass Street property in 2001, the Fighting Falcon Military Museum purchased the building and property for $40,000. Just a few weeks later, Grace Sagendorf passed away and left $50,000 to the FFMM which was used for this purchase.
In the summer of 2003, a 32 by 64 foot addition was constructed on the north side of the building to house the restored glider and related items. In April 2004, the glider was moved from the restoration building to the new addition --- a hole had been left in the west wall to allow the glider to fit in! The museum board worked that summer to finish the new addition and restore the old building. The official Grand Opening was held on Saturday, August 21, 2004! It was a marvelous day.
The FFMM secured monies from local donors in 2012 to install an elevator to the second floor area, a godsend to handicapped visitors. In 2013, Bill Johnson was hired to enclose the entire basement area under the glider room, which provided additional storage and work areas. This addition was paid for with a donation from the Stan and Blanche Ash Foundation.
The FFMM owes no one any money! We do not accept any taxpayer monies. An account has been established with the Greenville Area Community Foundation to provide funds for the museum in perpetuity. We could not have accomplished this great project without the generosity of local and area donors as well as the countless hours of our volunteers over the past 22 years.