Amazing Photos Bring Barry County’s Martin Corners To Life
In the Facebook group Abandoned Buildings in Michigan, a photo collage was posted recently with the simple caption "Barry County, Martin Corners, Methodist Church". Freelance Photographer Martin Hogan uploaded the photos he had taken there and was looking for some background. So the two of us teamed up and went to the Hastings Public Library. Assistant Director at the Michigan Room Mary Diane Hawkins located a book that had a good deal of information about these old buildings. It was written with contributions from the Barry County Historical Society and longtime residents from the area.
Martin Corners School
According to the Barry County Historical Society, the Martin School opened in 1855 at a log cabin on Joshua Martin's farm. A year later, construction on the school house at the corner of Martin and State Roads began and it was completed in 1858. The district covered a large area and the closest home was a mile away. That's quite a distance at a time without automobiles, but children made the trek.
Martin School continued to cover the area until Lakeview School was organized in 1901. The Martin district became much smaller but a new school house was constructed in 1907 and is still standing today although it has been vacated for several decades. The original school was moved the Fisher farm, east of the news school, and used for a grainary.
Martin Corners Church
Long before a church was built on the Martin property, church services and Sunday school classes were held in the old school house. In 1888, a church was built near the old school at Martin and State Roads.
Pastor C.W. Jones came in 1894, but was called the "building pastor" by some as he had previously bought the lots for the parsonage and also donated a good portion of the lumber used to build it.
The church flourished for decades and became a popular place for ice cream socials, church suppers, Easter and Christmas programs and dozens of others events and charity efforts. But by 1971, the number of members had dwindled. During a December meeting, it was voted that the church would be abandoned at the beginning of 1972. The church has sat empty since.