Starr Commonwealth 100 Year Anniversary – by Frank Passic

Morning Star, February 24, 2012, pg. 16

One of Albion’s most revered institutions will be celebrating a very big anniversary later this year. It was 100 years ago in August, 1913 that Floyd Starr returned to Albion to prepare to open Starr Commonwealth for Boys on several acres of land on the west shore of Mt. Calm (Montcalm) Lake just west of Albion. Floyd was a graduate of Albion College, as was his wife, the former Miss Harriett Armstrong. He came here in 1913 from the Beulah Home for Boys at Boyne City to settle the land he had purchased earlier.

The September 13, 1913 Albion Recorder weekly edition stated, “Mr. Starr, who was in the city Friday, has arranged for the disposition of all the boys at Boyne City with the exception of ten of the little chaps who will be brought here sometime next month, it is likely…The work to be done by Mr. Starr and his wife is mainly corrective in nature, and is largely philanthropic. Boys with whom but little can be done except the sending of them to the Lansing reform school will be cared for at the Commonwealth and gradually, by corrective methods, transformed into young men who will make splendid citizens.”

The December 11, 1913 issue of the Recorder stated, “The Starr Commonwealth for Boys, Floyd Starr’s home at Mt. Calm Lake, filed articles of association with County Clerk Cady Tuesday and according to the papers as made out the Commonwealth will be for the maintenance and operation of a home for vagrant and friendless boys for the instruction of such boys in various mechanical trades. The trustees or directors are Rev. Edgar Armstrong, Ruth Bacon, Mollie L. Weed, Professor Frederic S. Goodrich of Albion College, and Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Starr.” And that’s how it all got started.

Michigan Prints website offers prints and notecards of Albion, and other places.  Each print has a legend. 

The legend for the statue of Floyd Starr that is on the entry road begins like this:

“Floyd Starr, originator of the credo, “There is no such thing as a bad boy,” was born in Decatur, Michigan, on May 1, 1883.”

Floyd’s creed was “There is No Such Thing as a Bad Boy,” and his great legacy has remained intact even years after his death. Today Starr Commonwealth Schools serves both boys and girls in numerous types of programs. We expect there to be a big appropriate “to do” later this year as the anniversary approaches, but remember you read about it first here in our Historical Notebook. Congratulations to Starr Commonwealth on a job well done during your first century of service. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a postcard photo of Floyd Starr (1883-1980) and boys. How many of our readers remember Floyd Starr?

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Frank Passic

Frank Passic

An Albion native, Frank Passic is a 1971 graduate of Albion High School and has been writing Albion history articles since 1976.  He is the author of several books including Albion in Review, and Growing Up in Albion.

This story is reprinted with permission from Frank Passic.
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Starr Commonwealth has a historical marker near the entrance to the institution.
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