Ten Reasons to Show Historic Schools Some Love

May 06, 2010

Today we're reposting a great blog
from our friends at the National Trust
for Historic Preservation
, originally posted on April 27, 2010.
Kudos to Renee and the National Trust for their great work for community schools!

By Renee Kuhlman

Today is Historic Schools Day, which is part of School Building Week, an annual program organized by the Council of Educational Facility Planners. To celebrate, I thought I’d start a conversation about the many reasons why we love our older and historic schools.  
Here’s my top ten (in no particular order).  

Reason #1 – They’re old. Yes, that’s right – we love them because they have served and continue to educate our students. From the worn grooves on their staircases to their old-fashioned lockers, these buildings simply exude history.  

Reason #2 – We like how they look. We love admiring their architecture, which has been enjoyed by generations before us.  

Reason #3 – We like where they’re located. We think being able to walk and bike to school is pretty cool, not to mention the fact that it’s great for the environment. 

Reason #4 – We like their “compact build” (small footprint, multiple stories, etc.), which allow them to be nestled in our neighborhoods.  

Reason #5 – We appreciate the workmanship and long-lasting materials that went into them. We like walking on their gleaming terrazzo floors and appreciate the longevity of their slate roofs.  

Reason #6 – We think the schools’ civic design and prominent placement shows how much education was – and is – valued by community members. 

Reason #7 – We like wondering about the generations who came before us. Did the folks in those old class photos have as much trouble in high school as I did? Did we take math in the same classroom? Did I use their locker?  

Reason #8 – We enjoy seeing our neighbors there – whether it’s to vote, to enjoy a potluck supper, or to walk around the track after hours.  

Reason # 9 – We appreciate the care that has gone into maintaining the building…even more so now that we’re older ourselves.  

Reason #10 – We like that they are true centers of community.  

I know these aren’t all of the reasons. Take a moment to celebrate Historic Schools Day by telling us what you appreciate about the older and historic schools in your town. Need some inspiration? We hear dusting off those old yearbooks really helps to get the wheels turning.  

Albemarle-High-School-242x300

The three-story Albemarle High School Building has been a part of the small community of Albemarle, North Carolina since 1924, and is conveniently located in a residential neighborhood just one block from the central business district. Despite initial opposition from the school board, the community rallied support to save this building from demolition and to renovate it as the Central Elementary School in 2002. Local residents believe the renovation has contributed to the continued vitality of this rural community. (Photo: Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation)

Renee Kuhlman is the director of
special projects for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s
Center for State and Local Policy. The National Trust undertook the
“Helping Johnny Walk to School: Sustaining Communities Through Smart
Policy” project through a cooperative agreement with U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency.   

Want to learn more? Click here to
download the recently-released “Helping Johnny Walk to School: Policy
Recommendations for Community-Centered Schools.”