It is impossible to talk about the history of Graveraet High School without first knowing the background of Louis Graveraet Kaufman, who became the driving force to obtain the many outstanding qualities which were a part of that school.
Mr. Kaufman’s family goes back to the four or five founding fathers who were responsible for the founding of the original city of Marquette in 1849 and which was first name “New Worcester.”
Among these early pioneers was Robert Graveraet, who was of Dutch and Indian heritage, born and raised on Mackinac Island, but had made his way along the south shore of Lake Superior many times. At 14 he had acted as an interpreter for Henry Schoolcraft.
In 1845, Graveraet filed a mineral claim south of Teal Lake in what is now Negaunee and brought Charlie Kawbawgam up from Sault Ste. Marie in 1846.
Mr. Graveraet became one of four men in the original group that formed the Marquette Forge and Iron Mining Co. led by Amos R. Harlow and financed by Waterman Fisher, who built the first company town on the site of present Marquette.
|A sister of Robert Graveraet, Juliet, married an early merchant, Sam
Kaufman, and they had a family of eleven children, all born in Marquette. Robert
Graveraet was on the first Board of Inspectors for the Marquette School system, a forerunner of the present
School Board, back in 1850. He had been one of the leaders in getting a school started in the little communty.
The sixth child of Sam and Juliet Kaufman was Louis Graveraet Kaufman. He was born on November 13, 1870. Louis graduated from the Marquette School System and as a young man worked for his oldest brother, Nathan. At first he was studying to be a mining engineer, but at 24 went to work for the same brother in the Marquette County Savings Bank where in a few years he became the vice president. In these years he was studying banking and soon was on his own as vice president of Peter White’s First National Bank. When Peter White died in 1908, he became president. Peter White had been a member of the Marquette School Board for 50 years.
In time, Mr. Kaufman was asked to take over as president of the Chatham National Bank in New York City. He accepted the position but only after the way was cleared for him to be able to remain as president of the First National Bank in Marquette at the same time.
In the decades between 1910 and 1930, Louis G. Kaufman went on to become a national banking figure. He engineered the merger of two old and respected banks in New York, the Chatham National and the Phoenix National to form the Chatham-Phoenix National Bank, at the time the largest in New York City. Later that bank became the Manufacturers Hanover Trust and today is known as Chemical Bank.
In 1910, Kaufman was elected to the Board of Directors of the General Motors Corporation and was responsible for the reorganization of that company in 1913. He remained on that board for 22 years and was chairman of their finance committee.
Among other accomplishments, Louis Kaufman was responsible for establishing branch banking and for the introduction of the trust system into banking. He became known as the “builder of banks.”
Besides his awesome positions in the banking world, Mr. Kaufman was president of the Petroleum Heat and Power Co., the Empire Safe and Deposit Co., the Chicago and Erie Railroad and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Marquette County Savings Bank.
The Kaufman legacy in Marquette includes the beautiful First National Bank complex, Granot Loma Lodge, the Kaufman Mausoleum in Park Cemetery, but nothing could touch the lives of the Marquette citizens as much as the Graveraet School with its beautiful Louis G. Kaufman Auditorium and the Kaufman Endowment Fund.
The first high school building in Marquette was a brick building constructed in 1859 on property donated for that purpose by Dr. Morgan L. Hewitt, the father-in-law of Peter White. There was objection at the time to this location as this was a wilderness at the edge of town.
This building served until 1875. By then it had developed many structural defects. It was torn down and replaced by a sandstone building known as the Union School on the same location. This building burned on a Friday evening in February of 1900, the fire thought to have started in the chemistry laboratory.
Architect Demetrius Frederick Chariton was hired to design the Froebel, Howard and Manual Training Building complex which was completed on the same location in 1902. It was always known as Marquette High School, but the official name was Howard High School, named after Howard Longyear who was a member of the last graduating class of the Union School. He was drowned in a canoeing accident near the cove at Presque Isle along with a friend, Hugh Allen, from the same class, in 1900. The Longyear’s donated money in his memory toward the Howard School.
This building had been built for a capacity of 200 studentsbut by 1915 it had an enrollment of 296.
That year a bond issue for $150,000 was passed by a vote of 346 to 230 to build a new high school. The center of town had moved north and west and several different locations were considered in that area, but when Mrs. Harriet Adams, widow of realtor Sidney Adams who lived in the huge sandstone house across from the Episcopal Church, donated two houses and lots on the corner of Front Street and Hewitt Avenue, that became the preferred site for the new school. Adjoining land (ten more houses and lots) had to be acquired by condemnation proceedings.
The board chose local architect John D. Chubb to design the new school. Chubb hired the elderly, but locally famous, D. Frederick Charlton, who had designed many local buildings including the old Froebel-Howard complex and 78 ether high schools across the Upper Peninsula, in an advisory capacity.
Quoting from “A History of the Marquette Public Schools--1854 to 1974” by Ralph Barber:
“In February of 1916 the dwelling houses on the new school site were advertisedfor sale and removal. By May bids had been accepted for the houses, with the Kinville home being sold to Mr. Lawrence and moved to the north side of Hewitt Avenue just west of Fourth Street; the Brotherton house was moved over to Third Street, north of Ohio and next to the present (in 1974) Ryoti Photograph Studio; the Preston house was taken further away to a location on the north side of West Ohio near Sixth, and the Dushane home was moved to a new location.”
In September of that same year, Mr. Louis G. Kaufman sent a letter and a check for $26,000 to the School Board to cover all the costs of land and clearing for the new school site. The gift was given in memory of his mother, Juliet Adelaide Graveraet.
But then the country was swept into World War I and everything was put on hold for several years. However, it was during the War, on May 4th of 1917, the Board of Education announced that the new high school would be called Graveraet High School, in honor of Mr. Kaufman’s mother.
-Excerpt taken from Fred Rydholm's History of the Graveraet School