1885 Packard – Ypsilanti Public Schools Administration Builidng

1885 Packard – Ypsilanti Public Schools Administration Builidng

The center part of this Greek Revival structure dates from 1830, when Isaac N. Conklin built it for his family. In the nineteenth century, the house was far out in the countryside and the centerpiece of a farm with fruit orchards. In 1910 when Dr. James Breakey and his wife bought the house, it was still a country place. The Breakey family did not move in until 1915, and they moved out a year later because it was too far away from town. The family rented the farm to others over the years; they bought neighboring farms until they owned 130 acres.

The Breakeys’ son, James Jr., always dreamed of moving back into the house. By 1967 he was Judge Breakey, and he and his wife, Evelyn, remodeled the house using plans he designed, and they moved in. The remodel added two libraries, a master bedroom wing, a breakfast room, a garage, and a gardening room and nearly doubled the size of the house. Judge Breakey died in 1969, and under the terms of his will the house and property were bequeathed to the Ypsilanti Board of Education in memory of his parents. The school district moved their offices into the house in time for the beginning of the school year in September 1970.

A second addition was completed in April 2011 on the east side of the building, paying heed to its Greek Revival style. A spacious development room and storage spaces fill up the new wing. Tourgoers will enjoy going through the building, which features original woodwork and five fireplaces. Many details of the original house and the Breakey addition remain. Artist Steve Allen is the husband of Karen Allen, administrative assistant to the superintendent. A number of his oil paintings are on loan to the building and they enliven the walls at every turn.

A school district receptionist who has worked in the building for twentysix years is certain it is haunted. She used to come in often at 4:30 a.m., and while making phone calls to substitute teachers she’d listen to someone bumping around on the second floor. “I am sure it is Mrs. Breakey,” says the receptionist. “I’ve heard her many times.”