Gretchko Elementary School in West Bloomfield, Mich., was completed in August 1995 and was designed for students in preschool through first grade. Designed by TMP Associates, the school received an Elementary Citation in American School & University's 1997 Architectural Portfolio.
Competition jurors described it as "a fun place for students."
Gretchko now has about 430 students from kindergarten through second grade, the school's web site says.
Remington Jefferson School in Franklin, Mass., was built in 1996. Designed by Drummey Rosane Anderson, it combines Remington Middle and Jefferson Elementary schools in the same facility.
Jurors in American School & University's 1997 Architectural Portfolio awarded the Remington Jefferson the William W. Caudill Citation—the top design award for K-12 facilities.
"Very handsome traditional flavor with up-to-date amenities," the jurors said. "A great place/space to learn."
Batten Library, which serves the middle and upper schools at Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, Va., opened in 1995, and the following year received the Crow Island School Citation, the top design award for K-12 facilities in American School & University's Educational Interiors Showcase.
The academy wanted the facility to be a high-tech environment within the fabric of the existing 1960s campus. The competition jurors declared it "a wonderfully simple solution that is elegant and balanced in space.
The Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., received the Louis I. Kahn Citation as the top higher-education school design in American School & University's 1995 Architectural Portfolio.
A centerpiece of the facility is a spacious atrium designed to provide a venue for interaction among students and faculty. The competition's jury described the facility as "richly detailed, but not overdone."
The design of the media center at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind., received the Crow Island Citation, the top award for K-12 facilities, in American School & University's 1995 Educational Interiors Showcase.
The media center is part of an addition to the high school and was designed to be the focal point of the school for the delivery of not only print but also electronic media.
This is what a modern locker room at a university looked like 83 years ago. The 1934 American School & University featured this photo of the basket and locker arrangement in the men's locker room at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
"The arrangement makes it possible for the student to have access to his basket at any time," the article says.
This photo of a high school in Wichita, Kan., was part of an article in the 1935 American School & University that advocated the importance of a good landscape design to complement school grounds.
This photo from the 1935 American School & University depicted a "typical counter file in the registrar’s office" in the University of Wisconsin's Bascom Hall.
Click here to see more from the University of Wisconsin about the more-than-100-year-old history of Bascom Hall.
Skinner Hall of Music at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., opened 85 years ago and was featured in the 1931-32 American School & University.
According to Vassar's online encyclopedia, the opening of the facility marked the end of a cramped and uncomfortable 30 years for the college's music department. Before that, "a sizable collection of irreplaceable scores, books and instruments was accumulating, all in a few decrepit rooms without proper sound-proofing or temperature control," Vassar says.
the building, reminiscent of French Medieval Gothic buildings, is divided into three wings to ensure that sound from activities in one part of the building does not interrupt the goings-on in another part.
Much of the building’s interior would still be recognizable to the first students who walked through its doors, but a number of renovations and improvements have taken place. In 1981, in honor of Skinner Hall's 50th birthday, the seats in the recital hall were reupholstered, and the backstage area was redone and made more amenable to visiting performers.
Dick's House at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., was the school's infirmary. As featured in the 1935 American School & University, the house provided "a home for the boys of Dartmouth college when they are sick or ailing.” (At the time, it was an all-male college.)
From their sick beds, “students convalescing can watch the sports on the pond in winter and see their classmates passing for golf in the warmer weather.”
Lindenhurst High School, built in 1930 in Lindenhurst, N.Y., was featured in the 1935 American School & University.
The building now houses the Lindenhurst Union Free School District's middle school.
This photo in the 1935 American School & University highlights the dual functions of this space in Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J.
Under the headline, "Beauty and Utility in Food Service," the article notes that the area serves as both a cafeteria and a study room.
When the 1935 American School & University featured the Essex County Boys Vocational School in Bloomfield, N.J., aviation was still new enough that matters such as spelling were still unsettled. The photo shows students from the "aeroplane mechanics department" tinkering with what most Americans would recognize as "airplanes."
Even more than 80 years ago, school planners emphasized the importance of flexible space.
"Facilities...shall be so planned and set uo that they can be changed with a minimum amount of expense and effort, to provide for new training needs created by changing conditions." the article states.
The school building, which opened in 1931, is now known as Bloomfield Tech. It still houses Essex County vocational and technical programs, but plans call for the campus to close in 2018 when the county completes construction of the Essex County Donald M. Payne, Sr. Vocational-Technical Campus in Newark.
Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn was opened in 1929. Its auditorium boasted "one of the finest sound installations in any school," according to the 1935 American School & University.
"Inexpensive but practical" was how the 1935 American School & University described the library at Young Senior High School in Knoxville, Tenn.
"Note the simple, painted shelves, magazine rack, and linoleum bulletin boards," the article states.
Young High School was established in Knoxville in 1913; in 1976, it merged with South High to become South-Young High.
In 1991, South-Young merged with Doyle High, and the newly combined school was named South-Doyle High.
Among the amenities in the Mosher-Jordan Halls, dormitories that opened in the 1930-31 school year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, were sun rooms on the upper floors. This sun room in Mosher Hall was featured in the 1935 American School & University.
The Mosher-Jordan Halls provided living space for 450 female students. The combined structures are named in honor of two deans of women of the university, Eliza M. Mosher and Myra B. Jordan.
About 10 years ago, the facility closed for a $65 million renovation. Mosher-Jordan Hall reopened in 2008 with numerous modern amenities. It now is a co-ed living space.
"The greatest handicap of a New England school is the uncertainty of the weather."
So says an article in the 1935 American School & University highlighting the significance of the new Winter Exercise Building at The Choate School in Wallingford, Conn. The private boarding school dedicated the building in 1932.
The facility fulfilled “the vision of a winter exercise building which would make a New England school independent of weather,” the article says.
In the intervening years,The Choate School has merged with Rosemary Hall and now is known as Choate Rosemary Hall. The Winter Exercise Building has survived a damaging fire, has undergone extensive renovations and an expansion, and has a different name: Worthington Johnson Athletic Center.
The Language and Literature Building at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., opened in 1934. The 1935 American School & University said the building's "long, low structure of red brick harmonized with the earlier buildings on campus."
According to the university's web site, the facility was completed at a cost of $129,000 and included an auditorium that seated 450; seminar rooms for Classical, Germanic and Romance languages; faculty offices; 10 classrooms; a lounge; and a library. In 1938, it was named the Charles P. Vaughan Literature Building.
After more than 80 years, the building continues to serve Bucknell students.
The Glenwood Primary School in Glenwood, Minn., was featured in the 1934 edition of American School & University.
When Tufts University in Medford, Mass., opened Cousens Gymnasium in 1932, the $500,000 facility was the most expensive construction on campus. The school newspaper boasted that the building "was second to none in New England."
American School & University's 1934 edition described the building as “acoustically satisfying for all forms of athletic contests, as well as for other entertainments and social events.”
The Cousens facility underwent a major renovation in 2009 and still is used for athletic activities and other campus events.
The George P. Phenix Training School, on the campus of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Va., was featured in the 1934 American School & University.
It opened in 1931 and offered instruction to black students in grammar and high school, according to the school's alumni web site. The school also helped train college students from Hampton Institute, an historically black university, who were seeking to become teachers.
The school subsequently became a high school, and after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that found segregated schools unconstitutional, the Hampton Institute, in an effort to persuade the Hampton School Board to build a new high school for black students, refused to renew it lease that let the school board use the Phenix School building.
Phenix High School finally was integrated in 1968, and its name was changed to Pembroke High School. Pembroke High closed in 1980.
An article in the 1934 American School & University looks at the architectural styles of education facilities and highlights three Gothic-style buildings on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus (from left to right): the legal research building, Hutchins Hall, and a dining hall.
Among the accessories to the gymnasium at St. Benedict's School in the Bronx was a portable boxing platform where students could put up their dukes for fun and exercise. This photo from the 1936 American School & University also shows that the gym had plenty of ringside seats for the student body.
The White-Gravenor building at Georgetown University, depicted at night in a photo from the 1936 American School & University,was constructed on the Washington, D.C., campus in the early 1930s, according to the Georgetown Library archives.
White-Gravenor Hall, named for two of the first Jesuit priests to come to Maryland in the 1600s, still is in use. The university says it is a classroom building that also houses offices for the dean of Georgetown College, the university registrar, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Student Accounts.
In this photo from the 1936 American School & University, the auditorium at St. Benedict's School in the Throgg's Neck section of the Bronx is filled to capacity with attentive students.
Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., installed cork-surfaced tennis courts so that they could be used in more parts of the year, according to the 1936 American School & University.
The May 15, 1936, edition of the college newspaper, The Colgate Maroon, says the courts were completed in 1935 at a cost of $15,000 and “are reputed to be the finest set of college courts in the East.”
Earlier this year, Valley High School in Louisville, Ky., celebrated its 80th anniversary.
But when the building opened in 1936, the campus wasn't Valley High and it wasn't in Louisville. As reported in the 1937 American School & University, Jefferson County High School opened in Valley Station, Ky., an unincorporated area of the county.
Over the years, the campus has received several renovations and additions, as well as a name change, and the Valley Station neighborhood was annexed into Louisville.
After a $26 million upgrade a few years ago that included a new auditorium and new gymnasium, the school adopted a medical magnet theme and added grade levels. It now has students in grades seven to 12.
An article in the 1936 American School & University drew attention to the incandescent fixtures illuminating the narrow pathways in the stacks of Langdell Hall, which houses the law library at Harvard University.
According to Harvard, Langdell Hall opened in 1907, but the building wasn't completed until 1929. The hall underwent a major renovation in 1997, and still is home to what Harvard calls the largest academic law library in the world.
Hadley Vocational School in St. Louis trained both boys and girls of high school age for industrial or commercial careers, but as this photo from the 1936 American School & University show, the cosmetology shop in the school was predominantly a female environment.
The vocational school, which opened in 1931, operated until 1963, when its building became the new home for Vashon High School.The facility closed for good in 2002 when a new Vashon was built, and the old Hadley building was torn down in 2003.
This photo from the 1936 American School & University spotlights the terrazzo flooring at the Samuel Gompers Industrial High School for Boys, a school for training electrical engineers, electricians and machinists that opened in 1935 in the Bronx, N.Y.
The flooring "carries heavy traffic with minimum wear and low maintenance cost," the article stated.
In recent years, the school was known as Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School, but New York City closed it last in 2015.
Three other high schools share the building, according to the New York City Department of Education web site.
In the 1930s, what is now Western Kentucky University was known as Western Kentucky Teachers College, and that's what the bus in this photo from the 1937 American School & University says.
The article highlights the vehicle's long wheelbase that helps the bus "provide comfortable transportation."
Chadsey High School was built in Detroit in 1931 and was featured in the 1936 American School & University.
The accompanying article lauded Chadsey for opening up its technical arts education to a wider range of students. Vocational education has been "ignored or offered to those social misfits whose possibility of success is very meager,” it stated.
For a high school to give "one group a preferred place over another is undemocratic in spirit,” the article said. But what was considered democratic in 1936 seems less than progressive 80 years later.
“Technical arts education is available at Chadsey to any boy [emphasis added].”
As for the Chadsey facility, the article asserts that “the average American community demands a school building of architectural beauty that is fire-resistant and equipped with the perfected heating, lighting, ventilating and plumbing systems essential to community health.”
Chadsey served its community until 2009, when Detroit Public Schools officials, in the face of rapid enrollment decline, shuttered the high school campus. The building was razed in 2011.
This photo of Washington High School in New York City appeared in the 1937 American School & University. The massive facility was built on the site of Fort George, in what now is, appropriately enough, the Fort George neighborhood in Manhattan.
The building housed Washington High from 1925 to 1998; in 1999, the New York City school system repurposed the space and renamed it the George Washington Educational Campus.
The campus now houses four themed high schools—one on each floor of the facility: High School for Media and Communications; The College Academy, formerly the High School for International Business and Finance; High School for Health Careers and Sciences; and High School for Law and Public Service.
When the building that houses Brighton High School in Boston opened in 1931, the school already had been in operation for 90 years. The 1936 edition of American School & University, in the photo above, featured what was then a new school facility.
Still going strong after 175 years, Brighton High serves as a high school for about 1,000 Boston Public Schools students. The "new" building is now 85 years old.
Mary Mayo Hall was a women's residence hall at Michigan State College when it was featured in the 1937 American School & University.
The facility was built in 1931, and after a major renovation completed in 2009, still provides housing for students—men and women—at what is now Michigan State University in East Lansing.
But more compelling and maybe creepy to many who have attended MSU is the oft-told legend that Mayo Hall is haunted.
"A portrait of the building's namesake hangs on the first floor, with eyes that are reported to follow you through the room," says an MSU website dedicated to school history. "...A woman’s figure is seen in the West lounge, and a piano that plays by itself are some of the unexplainable occurrences reported. "
Thornton Hall, featured in the 1936 American School & University, was built in 1935 as the new home for the engineering department at the University of Virginia.
The facility still serves that purpose 81 years later, housing what is now called the School of Engineering and Applied Science. But in the intervening years, Thornton Hall has seen changes. According to the university, a chemical engineering wing was added in 1950-51, and the building was enlarged in teh late 1950s to accommodate aeronautical and mechanical engineering programs.
The new Athletic Building at the University of Minnesota opened in 1935. Featured in the 1937 American School & University, the facility was often called "the Indoor Sports Building for Men," according to the article.
This classroom from a school in Montgomery County, Md., was highlighted in the 1936 American School & University. The "Activity in the Alcove," as the photograph caption read, was shown to illustrate the benefits of flexible classroom space. The alcove provided space for students to carry out small-group activities away from their desks.
"What the future will bring about in the way of richer possibilities no one can forecast," the article states. "It is clear, however, that the future wil not make for fewer possibilities and, consequently, classrooms should provide for expansions and future needs."
In this photo from the 1937 American School & University, primary school students are shown learning their way around the keyboards of Remington manual typewriters.
Fire escapes were a common safety element of educational facilities in the early years of the 20th century. The most familiar fire escapes are the wrought iron stairways attached to the exterior of a building, but this photo from an ad in the 1936 American School & University depicts a version in which those fleeing a fire slide to safety.
Potter Manufacturing in Chicago said that its tubular fire escape had been installed in more than 3,500 locations in the United States and Canada and was "recognized as being the safest and most practical fire escape for schools and hospitals."
The Liberal Arts Building at the University of Colorado in Boulder was featured in the 1932-33 American School & University. The classroom facility, opened in 1921, was one of 15 buildings on the Boulder campus designed by architect Charles Klauder between 1920 and 1938.
Wings were added to the building in 1938. The facility is now known as the Hellems Arts and Science Building.
The playground at Malaga Cove School in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., was featured in the 1932-33 American School & University. The school served grades K to 8 and opened in 1926, just a few hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.
According to The Daily Breeze, the campus transitioned to an intermediate school in the 1960s, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified District closed the school in 1991. For several years, the campus housed a private prep school and a museum, but about 10 years ago, the district reclaimed the property and decided to restore it for use as the district's administrative headquarters.
The Malaga Cove Administration Center opened in 2010.
A mechanical bookkeeping class at the High School of Commerce in San Francisco takes advantage of the latest in 1930s technology. The school, built in 1926, was featured in the 1932-33 American School & University.
The Joseph Koenig Elementary School, featured in the 1931-32 American School & University, was built in 1931 in Two Rivers, Wis.
According to archives at the University of Wisconsin, the red brick, two-story school "was acclaimed a model grade school building by state and national authorities."
In its first year, the school had 274 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The cost of constructing the school and providing equipment for it was $147,523.
The "men's dormitory group" at the University of New Hampshire in Durham was highlighted in the 1931-32 American School & University.
The Galen Stone Tower at Wellesley College, pictured here in the 1932-33 American School & University, has been described as one of the most beloved features of the Wellesley, Mass., campus.
The 182-foot-tall tower was built with the help of donations from Galen L. Stone, a Boston-based financier and philanthropist, and the structure is still considered a campus icon some 85 years later.
The primary reason for the tower's significance on campus is the 32-bell carillon, installed in the tower in 1931, which the college describes as the largest musical instrument in the world.
Students who are accepted as members of Wellesley's Guild of Carillonneurs perform concerts on the carillon between classes and for special events.
Barret School was built in Shreveport, La., in 1916. After the school expanded in the early 1930s with a two-story auditorium and classroom wing, it was featured in American School & University as "an example of how a building not planned for expansion can be added to...with little sacrifice to the convenience and appearance of the main building."
Now 100 years old, the building is known as Barret Paideia Academy. It still is in use as a preK-5 school with about 300 students, but the Caddo Parish district would like to close it. Barret was one of six schools that would have been closed and replaced by three new elementary schools as part a $108 million “Reinvest in Caddo Parish Schools” 2015 bond proposal, but voters rejected the plan.
Modern school design places a heavy emphasis on flexible furniture, but even 80 years ago, educators sought classroom furnishings that could adapt to different uses.
The photo above: Is it a chair, a table or a desk? The Adjusto-Posture Chair-Table, advertised in the 1933-34 American School & University by the E.H. Sheldon Company of Muskegon, Mich., was all of the above.
Miami Senior High School opened in February 1928 in Miami, Fla., and was featured in the inaugural 1928-29 edition of American School & University.
Among the spaces in the school were separate study halls for boys and, as pictured above, girls. The boys' space had a seating capacity of 235, and the girls' space had room for 253. Between the two study halls was a "completely equipped modern library" with a seating capacity of 160—presumably both boys and girls were allowed to enter.
Construction of the R. Howard Dobbs University Center at Emory University in Atlanta, completed in 1986, consisted of renovation of an existing 60,000-square-foot student center built in 1950, what was known as the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC), combined with a 75,000-square-foot addition.
The tiered dining terraces in the addition overlook the more traditional-looking facade of the AMUC.
Now, 30 years later, Emory is planning another overhaul of its university center that calls for preserving the AMUC and replacing the newer sections built in the 1980s.
A distinctive feature of the Maple Hill Elementary School in Naugatuck, Conn., is the skylight that brings ample amounts of natural light into the facility.
Construction of the 74,000-square-foot facility was completed in 1989 and was featured in American School & University's Architectural Portfolio.
"A large triangular skylight over building's central vertical and horizontal circulation hub floods daylight directly into the inner core of the building," the project description states.
Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute in Pittsburgh was completed in 1987 and received a citation for outstanding design in American School & University's 1988 Architectural Portfolio. Judges singled it out for its "highly sophisticated, intellectually stimulating architectural design."
North Broadway Elementary School opened in 1982 in the Escondido (Calif.) Union District, and its design was awarded a citation in American School & University's 1983 Architectural Portfolio. Judges praised the "dynamic composition of forms and color" on display throughout the 700-student campus.
Olin Arts Center at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, opened in 1986, and it was awarded the Louis I. Kahn Citation as the top higher-education design project in American School & University's 1987 Architectural Portfolio.
Judges said the design succeeds 'in bringing together a variety of functions...Interiors—gallery and studios—are delightful."
Haven Intermediate School was built in 1927 in Evanston, Ill., and its design, with a focus on the three-story building's auditorium, was featured in the first-ever American School & University.
A May 1927 article in The Chicago Tribune also noted those amenities.
"There will be all sorts of attractions to make going to school a pleasant duty for children," The Tribune said, including an auditorium and balcony that seats 850 and a stage where students can show "their histrionic abilities."
Other attractions cited in the article: separate gymnasiums for boys and girls, " shower bath rooms for the youngsters," and a 250-seat cafeteria.
Many years later, the school building, designed by the Childs & Smith architecture firm, achieved a slice of Hollywood fame when it was used as a location in the "Home Alone" movies.
The building, still in use, now is known as Haven Middle School, part of Evanston/Skokie School District 65. About 800 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades attend Haven.
When it opened in 1926, Levy Mayer Hall became the first permanent home of the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. The large lecture space in the facility, Lincoln Hall, was depicted in the 1927-28 American School & University.
Still is use today, Lincoln Hall is described by the law school as the signature space in Levy Mayer Hall. The lecture hall's seating arrangement is modeled on the British House of Commons, and as one recent law school guide stated, is "exactly what a law school classroom should look like."
"They don't make them like they used to," the National Safety Council says, "and that's a good thing."
Once a common site on school playgrounds, jungle gyms or monkey bars made of steel gave children the opportunity to exercise by climbing up and around the structure.
The 1927-28 American School & University included this advertisement for a JungleGym "built of the very best selected steel pipe." The cost? $250.
Even though the seller asserted that children could climb on the equipment "without the slightest danger of falling," safety advocates have helped make such structures rare on school playgrounds.
The National Safety Council notes that there isn't much metal found in modern playground equipment, and that climbing equipment is required to have bouncy fall surfaces below instead of the rock-hard earth or concrete that was often found beneath a jungle gym back in the day.
Got your own piece of school facility design history you'd like to share? Email images to Mike Kennedy, and you may see them in a future Throwback Thursday update.
From American School & University and School Designs
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