Bath Township, in Michigan, was one of those little farm towns, with a grain elevator, a small drugstore, and everyone knew everyone. Bath had years of debate on whether to continue with the system of one room schools or to consolidate to one area school. In 1922, the township voters approved the creation of a new school which would house grades 1-12. To pay for this new building area landowners, about 300 of them, would pay higher property taxes. When the school opened 236 students were enrolled from all over the consolidated school district.
On May 18, 1927 school began at 8:30am, a normal start to a Wednesday by all accounts. Children were catching up, getting to their classes and preparing for their day’s lessons. At 8:45 a small alarm clock sounded in the basement of the north wing of the school, triggering an explosion of dynamite and pyrotol placed in the school by Andrew Kehoe, the school board treasurer, and one of the school’s caretakers.
Andrew Kehoe had been angry about property taxes used to fund the school. It was believed he formed the plan to destroy the school at least 9 months in advance when he lost an election for township clerk. On the same day of the school explosion he burned down his farm, killed his wife, and then blew up his car, killing himself and five other people.
The death toll came to a staggering 45 individuals. Thirty eight were children, two teachers, the school superintendent, and several bystanders. In the aftermath, a large pile of dynamite was discovered under the south wing of the school. It’s timer had not gone off.
In Bath, at the Bath School Memorial Park, visitors can see the Cupola that was the only part of the central and partial north wing of the school that survived the explosion while the south wing was left fully intact.