Note: The post originally featured a picture of Ste. Marie's School captioned as Manchester West High. This has been corrected.
You can find the first post about Central High School here.
In 1922, the opening of the Practical Arts building coincided with the opening of Manchester High School West (or West High) on the other side of the river, giving the mainly French Canadian population, or "Westies," a school closer to home, without having kids schlep across a bridge every day. With this development, the schools earned their current names. Both West and the Practical Arts building were built in the same Federalist styles and bear striking similarities to one another. You have to wonder if the city used the same firm or contractor for the buildings. Perhaps, half off the second building?
|Manchester West High School (Left via Meridian Construction) and Central High School's Practical Arts |
Even though the school had its first gymnasium, electricity and science/shop-geared classrooms, the centerpiece of the PA was the auditorium. Accessible from all three levels, it could seat 1500 people and before the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth was built, sported the best acoustic quality in the state. The auditorium also contained a mid-stage trapdoor, dressing rooms, electric lighting, recessed orchestra pit and projection booth equipped with a Simplex projector to display "flickers" or silent movies. I'm working on getting a photo of the auditorium as it is often lauded as beautiful.
With the opening of the PA building, the school bolstered a much more complex and comprehensive curriculum and co-curriculum. Vocational training classes were being supported and added every year to educate children that were not on a set collegiate path. Local, political and tax-weary critics accused the school of trying to be all things to everyone. When I read this I couldn't help but think of this quote from the same interview with Lebbeus Woods, futurist architect, that I referenced in the first post about the school:
As I wrote some years back, architecture is a political act, by nature. It has to do with the relationships between people and how they decide to change their conditions of living. And architecture is a prime instrument of making that change – because it has to do with building the environment they live in, and the relationships that exist in that environment.Manchester, along with the rest of the country, was moving into the modern era and the school system paralleled itself with that, knowing every child wasn't college bound but needed education. The PA building and the Corey Needle buildings (a retired needle factory that the city leased and equipped with six shops) were major factors in allowing kids to study vocational skills. In 1924, Dr. Louis P. Benezet, arrived as the school system's most progressive and "erudite" superintendant. Benezet denounced much of the classical curriculum that colleges still held high and felt —with an egalitarian attitude— that it was the schools' mission to attract all manner of students and hold their interests in education. Benezet is often cited as instrumental in the Manchester schools providing a wider variety of subjects and activities. In a round-about way, he protected and rationalized the PA and Corey buildings' purpose to the public, besides the far more obvious reason of stemming a rising tide in student enrollment.
The Corey Building —cited as a "fire trap" by the fire department— would later be decommissioned in 1959 in lieu of a new Industrial Arts building behind the PA building.
|Corey’s Needle Works Concord Street between Nashua and Maple Streets, looking slightly north west. It later became Parochial Arts High School Manual Training Building. (1899)|
By the sixties, the school would begin to bloat with classrooms stacked deep with students and two new buildings would be birthed in contention. The final post later this week.
|Group portrait of Central High School Graduation Class, 1934.|