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FIVE FAVES ENCORE

Five Faves

Historian picks favorite Kalamazoo school buildings by

LYNN HOUGHTON

Our memories of school might include a favorite teacher, an unforgettable fellow student or a memorable class. Many people might remember some aspects of the buildings where they attended school, but they might not have paid close attention to specific details about a building or learned its history. Over our lives, we spend a huge amount of time in school buildings, as students, teachers, parents or staff members. Here I highlight some of my favorite Kalamazoo school buildings, looking at specific features that make these buildings special.

Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts 922 W. Maple St. Many times school buildings reflect the theory of the day regarding which building design would be best for educating students. In 1945, Kalamazoo Public Schools began plans for a new multi-story junior high school. Within four years, however, those plans were changed to a one-story concept. Considered more economical, this design allowed for more daylight in the rooms. Noisier classrooms for shop and music were isolated to other wings. Other junior high buildings in Kalamazoo subsequently followed this plan. The new building, designed by Louis C. Kingscott & Associates and initially named South Junior High School, opened in 1951. The school became the Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts in 2001.

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Woodward School for Technology and Research 606 Stuart Ave. Since Woodward School opened in 1880, several different school buildings have been located on this property. The fifth structure, designed by the local architectural firm Billingham & Cobb and completed in 1930, is by far the most elaborate. This company designed eight school buildings for Kalamazoo Public Schools in the 1920s, but the style chosen for Woodward Elementary School differed greatly from the style the company usually used. This classic symmetrical Georgian-Colonial Revival has a central portico decorated with six metal Corinthian columns 26 feet high and a second portico on the east side, both with fanlight windows. The central tower also is a unique feature, giving the building some stature. Since 1997, Woodward has been a magnet school emphasizing technology and research.

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Encore November 2020  

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