Thunder Bay Junior High School


History at Thunder Bay involves more than what is taught in social studies classes. The building in the photo above was occupied by students for the last time during the 1998-1999 school year. This site on the city block of Second and Dunbar Streets has a vast history of its own.
The Union School District was established in 1867 and the following year Union School was built at the current location of Thunder Bay Jr. High to give students a nine-year education. As the community grew, school trustees determined that the Union School was not adequate for the larger student population. In 1889 they began to build a new school. Union School was demolished so that the site could be used for the new Central High School.
The brick building held elementary classes on the first floor and high school classes on the second. The building had various changes and additions throughout the years. It was a source of great pride for the community which made its demise quite devastating when it was destroyed by fire in 1940.
Alpena High School was later built on the same site and opened in September, 1942. This three story building also had various later additions such as the science wing, cafeteria and music building. Rising student populations resulted in more changes and planning began for a new Alpena High School. In 1963 a pilot junior high program began at Besser School for some of the district's middle grades students. By 1967, Alpena High School was opened and Central High became Thunder Bay Junior High.
T.B.J.H. has undergone various grade changes from its first years as a 7-9 building. At one point all seventh graders were moved to Besser leaving just eighth and ninth grades at Thunder Bay. The closure of Thunder Bay in favor of the newer Besser Junior High building was at issue for a time when economics forced a lot of changes within the Alpena Public School District. However, public involvement resulted in the reversal of that decision.
In 1984 the ninth grade was shifted to the high school. Besser Junior High closed and eventually was reopened as an elementary building. Thunder Bay has remained a 7-8 school since that time. In June of 1996, voters passed a bond issue which included money to build a new junior high school. The new school was constructed at Third and Bagley where a much larger campus area is available. About 130 years of educational tradition will come to a close at the historic Second and Dunbar site. Students walked through the halls there for the last time in 1999. Memories of that location, whether it be as a high school or a junior high, will linger in the minds of thousands of Alpena residents who were educated there.
Most of the information for this page was taken from the research of Tim Pollard, one of the teachers of Thunder Bay Junior High.