Monday, March 14, 2011

Central High deterioration

I had not been by the old Central High School for a while, but after photographing the northwest corner of the JeffVanderLou neighborhood - home to several lovely blocks lined with dozens of Craftsman style homes - I paid a visit to the old school. Last time I was by, back around 2002, the school was in fine shape. So I was shocked to see the condition it's in today.

The copper domes have been stolen for scrap metal, and most of the windows are missing. Some of the windows might be tornado damage from January, but most of it has to be deliberate work of vandals or thieves - tornadoes don't selectively remove the frames on one floor and just the glass on another floor.

Vandals have also done a number on the beautiful formal approach to the school, smashing the balustrade railings and even the limestone globes.

The School Board of St. Louis still owns the abandoned building, and has failed to board it up properly. Boarding up is an imperative first step to secure the building and protect this significant city landmark.

More info and photos on the Yeatman / Central High School page.


ZZGare said...

This is really a shame. There are so many schools being put on the market now in St. Louis, I don't know who could buy them and do them justice. The school board should at least try to secure them to prevent the senseless vandalism. For a city with so many free things for kids, its a shame all the kids are moving out due to the lousy schools.

Roma said...

It's a matter of concern...aren't our education administration concerned about this. We have such a good structure in the city and losing it this way is shame for us.

Wayne Brasler said...

What is now Central High School originated as Yeatman High School. Yeatman has quite a history. It basically was replaced by Yeatman High School but remained is when the Central High building on Grand and Bell was designated for renovation. The Central student body and faculty was relocated to Yeatman for about two school years. With Central renovated, they returned home in September of 1927. They were there I believe three weeks when on September 29, without warning, an F-4 tornado smashed into Central Hall, ruining the building and worse killing five students. The remembrance in the 1927 Central yearbook is heartbreaking.
An essay by the principal on the high school as democracy is a thrilling read and reveals how advanced St. Louis high schools were in the late 1920s. It's all very enlightened thinking.

Wayne Brasler said...

While on the subject of schools, Normandy Middle School on Natural Bridge Road looks little as it looked when it opened in 1950. I have photos of it as it looked and COULD look if they'd take off the god-awful boards covering the windows. The architect was Kenneth Wischmeyer, and he loved schools being flooded with natural light. As for the Murchison Tabernacle on Natural Bridge, it actually is a makeover of the Normandy Grade School built in the long long ago. I have the original architect's drawing and all the information. It was a darling little two-room school. Later it was renamed Roosevelt and expanded (twice I believe). Eventually it was replaced by the Ittner-created Jefferson School (which look like a drawing from "Fun With Dick and Jane" in Pasadena Hills). I do the Normandy alumni newspaper and can send you all the issues including historic architecture and rare photos and tons of stuff on the eight (!) streetcar lines in the area including remnants which still remain. If you'd like me to send a package, will do.