History of The Children's House - The Children's House

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History of The Children's House

First Suttons Bay Montessori Class

The Suttons Bay Children’s House was founded in 1984 by Gretchen Uhlinger, an AMI trained Montessori guide who was looking for a Montessori program for her two young daughters. That first year of operation, the school offered one toddler class for children 18 to 36 months with Colleen Christensen as the guide, one primary class for 3 to 6 year olds led by Gretchen, after school child care, and parenting classes in a renovated farm house in the village of Suttons Bay.  In 1976 Marie Scott, a Montessori guide and parent of young children, founded The Montessori Children’s Center in Traverse City. It was located in a house on Rose Street and soon after moved to The First Congregational Church on Center Road.

In 1988, The Montessori Children's Center in Traverse City united with The Suttons Bay Children’s House under one nonprofit corporation and continued to operate in both locations. While the Traverse City program grew, satellite programs were offered at the Unitarian Fellowship on Center Road and at Central Grade School. The Traverse City program moved to a new location on West Royal Drive in 1998. The Suttons Bay program left the farm house and moved to the Royal Drive building in the fall of 2001. 

building2_2013_2.jpgThe Children's House emerged as a unified Montessori school when it opened its main campus in 2002 on North Long Lake Road. This beautiful building was intentionally designed to enhance the school’s Montessori philosophy and teaching method for infants through 6th grade. The Children’s House expanded to include 7th and 8th grade in 2014. In 2022, this growing young adolescent program became known as Compass Montessori Junior High and moved to its own campus in downtown Traverse City. 

Today, The Children’s House enrolls up to 245 children, infants through 6th grade, on its 8-acre main campus on North Long Lake Road just west of downtown Traverse City, Michigan. Compass Montessori Junior High enrolls up to thirty 7th and 8th grade students at its 6,000 square foot Park Street Campus in downtown Traverse City.