Pierce (John D.) Memorial Plaque
(corner of Emmet and Ballard Streets)
As part of the Ypsilanti Centennial celebration of 1923, a stone marker was placed on the corner of Emmet and Ballard Streets. The stone is of granite and stands about two and a half feet high. On the stone is a copper plate, imbedded in the rock. The stone marker is a gift to the city from the Rotary Club of Ypsilanti. This marks the location of the home of John D. Pierce, who lived here from 1867 to 1880.

Ypsilanti Daily Press - Golden Anniversary Issue - October 30, 1954:The Rev. Pierce, known as “Father Pierce”, was the first Superintendent of Public Education in the State of Michigan, appointed on July 26, 1836. Pierce was the first to hold such an office in any state. He held the office for five years, and as part of his plan for the state, called for the founding of a Normal School for the training of teachers. The Michigan State Normal School was established in 1849, and is now Eastern Michigan University. In 1852 he delivered the leading address at the opening of the "Normal School." A man of many attainments, he has always been considered to be the guiding light for Eastern Michigan University.

The Rev. Pierce, known as "Father Pierce" was born in Chesterfield, N.H., February 18, 1797 and spent his boyhood in Worccester, Massachusetts. He graduated from Brown University in 1822 and became principal of Wrentham Academy in Massachusetts. In 1823, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied for a year. The Congregational Association licensed him to preach and he became pastor of a church in Oneida County, New York.

He came to Michigan as a missionary in 1831 and settled in Marshall.

On July 26, 1836, he became Michigan's first superintendent of education and was the first to fill such an office in any state. In this office, he organized the public school system and devised plans for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

He was elected to the state legislature in 1847, where he sponsored a resolution for Michigan delegates to Congress to oppose introduction of slavery into the territories.

Both the old and new Pierce Halls on the Michigan State Normal College campus were named in honor of the famous Michigan education leader.