Karen Steele of Warsaw picks out bricks Tuesday morning from the former Madison Elementary School for herself and friends. Steele attended the elementary school from 1963-1969. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union.
Karen Steele of Warsaw picks out bricks Tuesday morning from the former Madison Elementary School for herself and friends. Steele attended the elementary school from 1963-1969. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union.
Alumni started collecting mementos of their memories   from the former Madison Elementary building Tuesday in the form of bricks.

Guy Shaw said he moved to Warsaw in 1965 and he went to Madison Elementary that year. He said his wife, Diane, and her entire family went to grade school at Madison all through grade school, beginning to end.

Shaw said he really liked the principal at Madison at the time he went. He said he didn’t have much interaction with him, but he remembers his interaction with the students and he like that.

Shaw also said during the year he was at Madison, he was one of the students that patrolled the school.

Some of his lifelong friends that still live in the area came from Madison Elementary, Shaw said.

Casey Trombely said she wanted to pick up bricks from Madison Elementary because she wanted to have a little keepsake of the building. She said she went to school to Madison from kindergarten to sixth grade.

One thing Trombely shared about being at Madison was she met her best friend, Gianna Ramirez.

“I just wanted to remember that, remember all the good times and all of the good teachers that I had,” Trombely said.

Ramirez, who also picked up bricks Tuesday, said she wanted to do so to remember all the good times at the old Madison building. She didn’t give specific memories of the school, but did say there were many good memories.

Tori Renecker said she went to Madison as a student from kindergarten, starting in 1989-90, to sixth grade. She is now a Warsaw Community Schools teacher. Her first few years were teaching at the old Madison Elementary, starting in 2007. She now teaches at the new Madison Elementary.

The main reason for picking up the bricks Tuesday, Renecker said, was the memories of “both my childhood education and turning around and teaching there was kind of a cool experience.”

Renecker said as a kid, you remember playtime probably more than anything else, “so recess was always fun, especially when we could go sledding down the hill. That was always a highlight.”

Renecker also had memories of “very special teachers” she had as a student there, growing up and how fun it was being in their classes and being with friends.

The sale of the old Madison Elementary property was approved during the July 15 Warsaw School Board meeting to Cary Groninger for $100,000 with a $20,000 endowment to the building trades program. Demolition of the building started Jan. 4.

West Ward School was built on Union Street in 1872. The two-story brick building was built on Union Street when the area was called “Thralls Grove,” according to a May 7, 2010, Times-Union article. It served grades one through five, with boys on the north and girls on the south side, and had outdoor facilities.

In 1954, the new building at 201 N. Union St. was dedicated and the old one torn down. Built directly behind the old location, the single-story brick building had a main hallway and what served as both the gym and cafeteria for many years.

In 1968, a library and classroom were added on, as well as a wing on the east and west sides of the building.

In 1999, a gym was added, a bus turn-around was put in and the kitchen was enlarged.

As the 2009-10 school year closed, it was also the last year for Madison Elementary to be at the 201 N. Union St. location. A new Madison was built at 1436 W. CR 300N, Warsaw, and classes began at that location in fall 2010.

The former Madison site became Gateway Education Center. The Gateway Education Center was closed at the end of the 2019-20 school year due to the cost of the expected repairs.