Years ago I had asked someone at the Tri-Cities Museum if there was any way to know where McCay might have lived -- or even to determine a geographic location where we could say he had definitely been. She said she highly doubted it because the layout of Spring Lake is very different now because so many fires had destroyed the town since McCay's time. The fires had also destroyed most records from those days.
Recently, at the first meeting held to discuss all things McCay, a small group of us were gathered at the Spring Lake District Library and were recounting what stories we knew of Winsor's childhood. Someone was mentioning the time McCay drew the sinking of the Alpena on his school chalkboard. Librarian Chris Davis said, "Hey, I wonder if that's the same school that was in the empty lot next door?" It turns out there is a small strip of land right next to the library where the town's one-room schoolhouse used to stand. The school was later destroyed... yep, in the fires. There is nothing on the plot to call attention to this, but the town has never let anyone build there because it's a historical site. "You can still see the foundations of the school," Chris said. "I've tripped over them while walking through on my lunch break." He quickly slipped out of the room to check some village records (good thing we were in a library) and returned with confirmation. "Yep - Union School was still there when McCay was school-aged!"
I couldn't even remember there being an empty plot of land next to the library. So right there, we all jumped up and walked outside, and sure enough, there is a nice little grassy plot with some trees and a checkerboard table the boy scouts recently built. I could just imagine little Winsor running around, all those decades ago.
Here are some photos of the lot:
Here you can see the school's foundations both on the left and also in the upper rignt corner of the image: