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A Recipe for Learning: The Burt Manual Training School & Potage St. Germain

“A unique Feature of this floor [of the Burt Manual Training School] is the suite of rooms illustrating all the typical rooms of a house, for the teaching of domestic economy. This suite of rooms comprises a kitchen, butler’s pantry, dining room, reception room and bed room. These rooms are all plainly but appropriately furnished, the bed room affording opportunity for instruction in the elements of nursing. ”

-James Cooke Mills, History of Saginaw, County Michigan, 1918


Above: Sanborn Insurance Map showing location of Burt Manual Training School and Eastside High School

Above: Exterior and Interior Images of Burt Manual Training School

A donation from Wellington R. Burt made the construction of the Burt Manual Training School possible. It was one of the many generous gifts the wealthy lumberman made to his home community. Located on South Warren Avenue, directly across the street from the Eastside Saginaw High School, the facility was designed by local architect W.T. Cooper. Embodying cutting edge educational philosophies, the imposing structure had walls of Saginaw Paving brick trimmed with limestone. Formally dedicated on May 31, 1906, The Saginaw Evening News reported that the crowd at the ceremony was “one of the largest and most representative audiences gathered in some years.” The day’s main address titled, “Education, the Old and the New, With Emphasis on the New,” was delivered by Woodbridge N. Ferris, after whom Ferris State University is named. The Saginaw Evening News published a detailed description and assessment of his address:


“It was a thoughtful, interesting and altogether wideawake talk, and received with cordial approval.


Of the world’s earlier attempts at education he said that books were the means and the type so turned out was autocratic. Men had reserved this kind of education for themselves, and had tried consistently to keep woman in the background. Women were counselled in connection that they would never get their full rights until demanded and insisted upon them.


‘Heart, hand and head’ composed the trinity that was being trained today according to the speaker, and he said that ‘the day of theory has gone, and such schools as these are for the bringing out of the best that that is in man and woman.”


The paper reported that Ferris continued:


“It was held that it was not necessary for all to become cooks or seamstresses, any more than it was necessary to become machinists or mechanics, but was it was of great account to know how to do things, to get into active contact with active life, and herein was the value of the manual training school. ‘Manual training,’ said the speaker, ‘discovers the boy and the girl. It revels them to themselves, shows them their capacities, and gives them opportunity to educate the hand as well as the brain, the hand that is in truth the second brain.” Character was formed, self-reliance taught and useful citizenship made by the manual training, the speaker held, and ‘best of all,’ he said, ‘is the social side. Here in these schools is our true democracy. It is idle to deny that we have classes and distinctions. We have them, but in the school our boys and girls stand side by side, work side by side, and so grown into the greater comradeship that comes with the truly democratic idea.’


In closing the speaker paid a glowing tribute to the donor of the school, who had done for the living a great and useful benefaction.” The Saginaw Evening News, June 1, 1906, p. 5


The Burt Manual Training School served several generations of Saginaw residents well. In its final years, serving as an adult education center. It was demolished in 1984.




Above: Pages from the 1918 Aurora, The East Side High School’s yearbook, listing staff and members of the Burt Manual Training School and pages with portraits of faculty members of the Domestic Science Department.


As you gather ingredients to make Potage St. Germain, we encourage you to imagine what it would have been like to make it in a 1918 Domestic Science class at the Burt Manual Training School. Also, contemplate the speech Woodbridge N. Ferris gave at the school’s dedication; However, as you do this, note that men are not shown as students – or teachers – in the c. 1910 photograph of the Domestic Science Class at the Burt Manual Training school.


Above: Image of a Domestic Science Class in the Burt Manual training School, c. 1910


The Recipe: Potage St. Germain




1 pt. green peas

3 c. milk or stock

1 slice onion*

1 slice carrot*

1 rib celery

1 sprig parsley

¼ bay leaf

1 bead mace [Note: we believe unit of measure is one blade of mace]

6 peppercorns

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. paprika

3 T. flour

3 T. fat

1 pt. hot milk

Simmer all except last three ingredients for 20 minutes. Rub through sieve. Make a white sauce of the last three ingredients.** Combine the two mixtures, strain several times and serve. Just before straining the last time, the mixture may be poured over two beaten egg yolks.

-From Saginaw High School, Domestic Science Class, 1918-1919


*Initially, we interpreted this meant one sliced onion and one sliced carrot. However, since making the recipe, we believe this should be interpreted as one slice of carrot and one slice of onion.


Notes:

Our test kitchen used milk instead of stock and decided to forgo the tempting egg yolk enrichment.

This is an early twentieth century interpretation of the French classic - Potage St. Germain. The challenging part of this recipe is pureeing and straining the extremely hot soup mixture. We intended to use a food mill, However, we had an equipment malfunction. (Sorry, the ensuing unphotogenic mess was not documented) We resorted to a food processor – which worked fine. Actually, most modern recipes for Potage St. Germain call for using an immersion blender or food processor. Now we came to the issue of straining the pureed mixture – which was now tepid. When combined with the boiling white sauce and strained again the final potage needed to be reheated. (Many modern recipes for Potage St. Germain do not call for the straining the mixture and do not use a white sauce base)

As we attempted to clean up the mess and salvage the test kitchen. We couldn’t help but have the words of the Hon. Woodbridge N. Ferris come to mind – “but was it was of great account to know how to do things, to get into active contact with active life, and herein was the value of the manual training school. ‘Manual training,’ said the speaker, ‘discovers the boy and the girl. It revels them to themselves, shows them their capacities, and gives them opportunity to educate the hand as well as the brain, the hand that is in truth the second brain.’”






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