Michigan School for the Blind

The Michigan School for the Blind (MSB) was a state-operated school for blind children in Michigan.

Michigan School for the Blind
Michigan School for the Blind administration building Lansing.jpg
Old Main (The Abagail)
Location715 W. Willow St., Lansing, Michigan
Coordinates42°44′51″N 84°33′44″W / 42.74750°N 84.56222°W / 42.74750; -84.56222 (Michigan School for the Blind)Coordinates: 42°44′51″N 84°33′44″W / 42.74750°N 84.56222°W / 42.74750; -84.56222 (Michigan School for the Blind)
Built1912 (1912)
ArchitectEdwin Bowd
Architectural styleNeoclassical
NRHP reference No.100002714[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 26, 2018

Its former academic campus is at 715 W. Willow Street in Lansing, Michigan, and is now The Abagail, a senior apartment complex. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.[1] For other portions of its history the school was in Flint.


In the 1850s, Abigail Rogers and Delia Rogers founded the Michigan Female College, constructing a campus in Lansing at this site. State colleges began admitting women in 1869, eliminating the need for a Female College and the institution was closed. The building spent a brief time as an Oddfellows Hall. By 1879, the Michigan School for the Blind and Deaf, then located in Flint, Michigan, needed a second campus for students with different needs. The former Michigan Female College became the Michigan School for the Blind.[2]

Over time, the school required more space. In the 1910s, the school hired architect Edwyn Bowd to design a new high school (constructed in 1912), a superintendent's house (constructed in 1914), and a new “Old Main” building (also called the Abigail), which was constructed in 1915. Older buildings were eventually demolished, leaving these as the oldest structures on the campus.

By the 1970s, attendance at the school was declining.[2] In 1994 the Lansing campus was closed. The school for the blind merged with the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint,[3] and the blind students moved to Flint in 1995.[4] By 2005 there were no blind children on the school campus; instead area school districts educated blind children.[3] To do this, the school for the blind focused on outreach services. It was renamed the Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) in 2006.[5]

The campus was sold to the Lansing Housing Commission. Redevelopment was slow and the campus was refurbished piecemeal.[2] The main section of the campus, including the high school and the Abagail, was purchased by a developer, with a plan to renovate them into housing units announced in 2016.[6] The first phase was completed in 2018.[7] Residents had a positive reception to the redevelopment as the campus was previously in a poor condition.[8] Further restoration began in 2019,[9] and was completed in 2021, turning two buildings into 60 affordable apartments for seniors.[10]


Lansing campusEdit

Three buildings on campus were constructed before 1950. The first of these is the c. 1910 high school, a rectangular three-story structure with a flat roof. The raised basement and central entrance surround are constructed of limestone. The second building is the c. 1914 superintendent's residence, a 2-1/2 story Colonial Revival house with a steep hip roof and hipped dormer. A side entrance is sheltered by a full-width hipped roof porch. The third building is the Administration Building (Old Main). It is a three-story Neoclassical structure built from brick and limestone. It is an E-shaped structure, and has been enlarged several times.[11] A central three-story portico is supported by four Doric columns with a pediment above.[12]

The campus of the former school is located on 35 acres (14 ha) of land.[3]

Flint campusEdit

The Flint campus had dormitories for the students, with a dormitory for blind students beginning construction in 1998.[4]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places Program: Weekly List: 7/19/2018 - 7/27/2018". National Park Service. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Lawrence Cosentino. "The Abigail waits for a mission".
  3. ^ a b c Leach, Hugh (2005-12-11). "School for the Blind sale debated". Lansing State Journal. pp. 1B, 4B. - Clipping of first and of second page at Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b "HISTORY of MSD and Flint, Michigan". Michigan Schools for the Deaf and Blind. 2000-08-22. Archived from the original on 2000-08-22. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  5. ^ "About". Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  6. ^ Eric Lacy (January 19, 2016). "School for the Blind site primed for historic rebirth". Lansing State Journal.
  7. ^ Eric Lacy (June 5, 2018). "Historic Michigan campus near Old Town shows signs of revitalization, seeks tenants". Lansing State Journal Published.
  8. ^ Ford, Christiana (2019-12-27). "Community reacts to former Michigan School for the Blind redevelopment". WILX. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  9. ^ Lacy, Eric (2019-04-17). "Michigan School for the Blind restoration project on pace to finish in 2020". Lansing State Journal.
  10. ^ Donna Kimura (July 20, 2021). "Michigan School for the Blind Becomes Affordable Housing". Affordable Housing Finance.
  11. ^ "Michigan School for the Blind / Administration Building". MichMarkers. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Michigan School for the Blind, Lansing Michigan, retrieved April 11, 2021
  13. ^ Egan, Paul (March 31, 2017). "Robert Mahoney, Michigan's first blind state lawmaker, dead at 95". The Detroit Free Press.
  14. ^ "About the Hosts". Doug Spade. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  15. ^ "Stevie Wonder: 'I'm going to take a break'; will have kidney transplant this September". Detroit News.
  16. ^ Tillotson, Kristin (22 June 2014). "Blind woodworker has a magic touch: 'You learn to see with your hands'". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved 2019-11-05.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit