J.L.McCulloch School

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J. L. McCulloch School is a seventy-six-year-old building that has been through many changes. The school was named after John Lewis McCulloch who was a great contributor to the community. The original school building had many state-of-the-art features. J. L. McCulloch School has also seen many changes in both grade levels and renovations. Many decades have passed since McCulloch School was originally put into use.


The land for J. L. McCulloch School was bought in 1920 from the heirs of H. J. Huiskamp ("School Plant" 1+). The building was completed in 1924. It was named after an influential man in Marion, Colonel John Lewis McCulloch. McCulloch moved back to his native state, Indiana, in 1888 where he settled in the growing city of Marion (Whitson 670). McCulloch and his brother-in-law J. Wood Wilson then established the Marion Fruit Jar & Bottle Company. He became the organizer and promoter of the company and later became its president and treasurer (McKown). The bottle company boomed with the discovery of natural gas in Indiana. The gas needed to make the bottles was cheap and nearby, making it an easy resource to aid production (Whitson 670). The company itself drilled many natural gas wells in Marion to supply its gas. In some of the wells, the company struck oil, becoming the largest private company in the oil business. Marion Fruit Jar & Bottle Company produced the "'Dandy Oil Can'" and the Mason fruit jar (Baldwin 182). They established two more factories in Converse, Indiana, and Coffeyville, Kansas. It was once said to be "the second largest bottle manufacturer in the world." McCulloch and Wilson then sold their company plants to the Ball Brothers Corporation of Muncie, Indiana, in 1904 (McKown). In 1900 McCulloch became interested in the Marion Paper Company, buying three-eighths of its stock. He became the vice-president and secretary of the company. He also became interested in the Marion National Bank when it reorganized in 1905. He bought one-fourth of the stock of the bank. A year later the bank elected him to be its president. Colonel McCulloch was also a member of many groups and organizations. He was "an Indiana affiliate of the Masonic fraternity, in which he has [had] the distinction of having received the thirty-third and maximum degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite," (Whitson 669). He was also a member of the Indiana Bankers' Association, American Bankers' Association, Presbyterian church, Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks, Marion Country Club, Marion Golf Club, Commercial and Marion Clubs of Indianapolis, and the Ancient Accepted Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He had had the jobs of teacher, clerk at a hardware store, bookkeeper for the Southern Glass Works and North Wheeling Glass Company, and salesman for the North Wheeling Glass Company (Whitson 669-72). Later, he became a member of the Kiwanis club ("Throngs in Temple" 1+). He also pledged $14,000 to help build the Masonic temple in Marion, which was almost one-third of the cost to build the entire temple. McCulloch was a very gracious giver to many causes in Marion (Whitson 669-72). He died in 1923 as a generous and respectable role model to all of the people he knew ("Throngs in Temple" 1+).

School Starts at McCullough

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The first day of school for J. L. McCulloch School was November 12, 1924 ("Today One of the Greatest" 1+). The students assembled at the old Norton School at the corner of 38th and Washington and the Sweetser School on the corner of 36th and Nebraska. Norton School contained junior high students and Sweetser School held the kindergarten and elementary students. The students then marched to the new McCulloch School at 36th and Washington. After the students arrived, they faced south to have their picture taken in a group in front of the building before entering (Pictures from McCulloch 2, 4). As the students entered the building they were sorted out by school level. The kindergarten and elementary students were taken to the second floor where all of that age was held. The junior high school students were taken to the first floor and basement of the school ("First Sessions Held" 1+).

The Middle Years

From 1924 until 1963, J. L. McCulloch School was a junior high, kindergarten, and elementary school ("1955 School Enrollment" 1). These grades contained all students from kindergarten to ninth grade. In 1964, the freshmen left McCulloch becoming a part of the high school for one year ("Marion Schools Enroll" 1). The next year the elementary students did not attend McCulloch School, only the kindergarten students and those in grades six through nine ("Early School Figures" 1). In 1966 J. L. McCulloch School became a junior high only school building. It housed seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. The kindergarten and elementary school children that lived in the McCulloch school district were sent to Center School ("To Charge 10 Cents" 1+). The Marion schools started to have declining enrollment throughout the system. In 1982, the school board decided that a rearrangement of schools be made. McCulloch and Justice junior high schools became middle schools at the beginning of the 1983-84 school year ("Schools a Time" 29+). Middle schools held grades five through eight. The ninth-grade level was moved into Marion High School. The elementary schools then held kindergarten through fourth-grade students ("School Schedules" 14).


In 1954 McCulloch School went through its first major renovation. The school added on another music room, an industrial technology room, and another classroom (1954 Plaque). In 1974 McCulloch School went through its second major renovation. The school gained a new library, a new cafeteria, six science laboratories, a band room with six practice rooms, more art facilities, and a home economics room with seven teaching stations. The auditorium was also renovated. The high ceiling was lowered and the balcony of the old auditorium was taken out, creating room for a new library to be added. The science laboratories were well equipped with new sinks, Bunsen burners, and other science equipment. The cafeteria included a separate, enclosed dining room for the teachers to eat in. The classrooms were all updated and needed equipment was added (Rhodes, "Inside" 4+).

McCulloch School had its most recent renovation in 1998. This renovation did not change the actual rooms, but updated the features and some of the utilities in the building. In many of the corner classrooms, the piping and insulation was replaced along with the temperature controls, air grilles, and some tube radiation. The toilet rooms of the schools were updated and made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The stall dividers were also repaired or replaced in some of the toilet rooms. A touch pad for wheelchair access was added to the southwest side of the building and the southeast entrance also added a spot for a future touch pad to comply with the ADA standards. The corner classrooms also received a new telephone/data network with computer power systems. Exterior lighting poles were placed in the new bus turn-around and parking lots along with new landscaping. Two of the offices on the second floor received air conditioning. The air barometric dampers were also repaired. A new exhaust system in the kitchen was installed. A return air duct was placed in the hallway leading to the art rooms and the sodium light fixtures were replaced with metal ones on the parapet. Phase three of the renovation started during the fall of 1998 and included adding an elevator to the southeast side of the building. Cabling and wiring were also set throughout the school so that computers could be used (Robinson 1). Each year of the building's existence has seen new needs to be met.


In the past seventy-six years, J. L. McCulloch School has been through many changes. J. L. McCulloch contributed many assets to the community and school system to encourage the building of the school and town. The original school had many new features and was a very state-of-the-art building. The school has been used for many different grades and has gone through numerous renovations. Since McCulloch has stood for such a long time, it has an interesting history.


Written by Rebecca Bushong


  • Baldwin, Moe H., and M. B. Edmiston. Some Greater Marion Faces. N.p.: n.p., 1905. 182
  • "Building is Turned Over to the City: Eloquent Address by a State Educator Feature of the Program." Marion Leader Tribune 12 Jan. 1925: 3+
  • Dedication Program of John Lewis McCulloch School. Marion, 1925
  • "First Sessions Held Today in New Building: McCulloch School Opened With Junior High Classes." Marion Chronicle 12 Nov. 1924: 1+
  • Journal 11 Feb. 1921: 1
  • "Marion Schools Enroll 8,867, Except More." Chronicle-Tribune 8 Sept. 1964: 1
  • McKown, June R. Marion Pictorial History. St. Louis, 1989
  • 1954 Plaque. J. L. McCulloch Middle School, Marion
  • "1955 School Enrollment in Marion is 256 Above Registration Last Year." Marion Chronicle 8 Sept. 1955: 1
  • Rhodes, Ron. "Inside McCulloch." Chronicle-Tribune 7 April 1974: 4+
  • Robinson, Lanita. "McCulloch's Makeover." Chronicle-Tribune 13 Dec. 1998
  • "Schools a Time of Change." Chronicle-Tribune 24 Mar. 1982: 29+
  • "School Plant in S. Marion: Fifteen Acre Tract Purchased and Modern Educational Institution is to be Installed." Marion Chronicle 19 July 1920: 1+
  • "School Schedules." Chronicle-Tribune Magazine 14 Aug. 1983: 14
  • "Throngs in Temple for Last Rites: Thousands Pass Before Bier as Late Banker's Body Lies in State." Marion Daily Chronicle 31 Jan. 1923: 1+
  • "To Charge 10 Cents a Trip: Shuttle Bus Scheduled from McCulloch-Center." Chronicle Tribune 4 Sept. 1966: 1+
  • "Today One of the Greatest for Schools: Opening of New J. L. McCulloch School is Event of Importance." Marion Leader Tribune 12 Nov. 1924: 1+
  • "To Dedicate New Building Next Tuesday." Marion Leader Tribune 13 Jan. 1925: 1+
  • Whitson, Rolland Lewis. Centennial History of Grant County Indiana: 1812 to 1914. 2 vols. Chicago: Lewis, 1914. 669-73