During the mid 1800's, Northville had one small public school house that was overcrowded and many small private schools offered out of people's homes and even a hotel. Proposed in 1859 and approved in 1863 was the building of Northville's first graded school at a cost of $5,000. Land was acquired at the southeast corner of Main and West (West went through to Cady at that time) on the site that now houses Old Village School. A brick building, two stories tall was built at an actual cost of $7,000. The Union School opened on September 4, 1865 with Professor William A. Osband as its first principal. The first school in Northville to offer a high school curriculum, it included Greek, Latin, French and German. There were four teachers in the high school program for 100 students. The first graduating class was in 1869, consisting of one student, Alice Beal. She went on to teach at the school until she married its principal.
In 1906 a surplus amount of taxes were coming into Michigan from the railroads which resulted in large appropriations of public school money. As Northville's student population continued to grow, the community took advantage of the windfall and in 1907 opened a new high school next to Union School on the site now housing the Board of Education offices. Union School was converted to an elementary school.
In 1916, Union School burned. Classes resumed one week later in a hastily-built wooden structure. A new school was built on the site of Union School at a cost of $85,000, now known as Old Village School. The high school students moved into this new building in 1917 and the elementary students moved into the 1907 building. It remained the high school until 1959, when it became the Junior High. It was the first school in Northville to have a gymnasium.
In 1927, the first high school band was organized. Sometime during the 1930's, the Mustang was adopted as the school mascot.
In 1936, the 1907 school building burned. It was replaced by Main Street Elementary, built by the Works Progress
Administration. It was an elementary school until 1975. Since then it has housed the Northville Public Schools
district offices and today also houses some of the early childhood classes.
In 1953, property on Buchner Hill at Center Street and Baseline Road was acquired by the Board of Education for a
new Northville High School. In 1956, voters approved a $2 million bond to build a new high school on the hill. In the
Spring of 1959, the new Northville High School opened its doors to junior and high school students while the Junior
High (Old Village School) was remodeled.
When school resumed in September 1959, the junior high students returned to their building on Main Street and the high school students got to enjoy their new larger school. Northville High School was officially dedicated on November 8, 1959. Members of the Northville PTA served tea to guests in silver pots. Russell H. Amerman was the Superintendent.
In 1968, an addition was made to Northville High at a cost of $1.1 million. Additional classrooms, a gymnasium and a pool were added. The pool opened in April 1969.
In 1985, as Northville continued to grow, NHS was once again under construction to add a
new cafeteria, Forum and additional classrooms, as well as expand the Media Center and
administrative offices. During the first semester of the 1985-86 school year, Cooke Middle
School was used as the high school annex and the school day was split into two sections to accommodate all of the students.
Juniors and Seniors attended school from 7:00 am to noon while Freshmen and Sophomores attended from noon to 5:00 pm.
The newly renovated high school reopened in time for second semester, except for the science wing, which was not yet
complete. For a little over a month during the heart of Winter, students would walk across the Eight Mile bridge to Cooke
Explosive growth during the mid to late 1990's quickly put the high school above capacity. In June 1997, voters approved a bond
issue to build a new high school on Six Mile Road between Sheldon and Beck roads. Ground was broken that Fall. In August 2000,
the new Northville High School opened and the former high school became Hillside Middle School. Students from Cooke Middle
School were moved over.
The new Northville High School includes state-of-the-art technology in computer labs and classrooms, an applied technology wing, four art studios, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a music suite, a Media Center, two gymnasiums, a soccer stadium, an eight-lane competition pool and a Wellness Center. The academic areas were designed to accommodate a variety of educational programs. The classrooms are clustered in neighborhoods with eight interdisciplinary classrooms and a computer lab in each cluster.
Originally built to house 1,800 students, continued enrollment growth required the construction of an addition that opened in 2003 providing a new capacity of 2,400 students. Enrollment at the high school sits at approximately 2,300 today. Northville High School is ranked among the top high schools in the State of Michigan offering many honors, AP and now International Baccalaureate courses, a strong Arts program, and many opportunities to participate in a strong Athletics program or one of the over 80 clubs.
Northville....The First Hundred Years, Jack W. Hoffman
Northville Historical Society
Northville High School...A History, presented by the Northville High School Transition Team
Northville High School Alumni Directory 2008, compiled by the NHS History Committee