In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was president, Babe Ruth made his major league debut, Charlie Chaplin made his film debut, and The San Jacinto Memorial Building in Houston, Texas began its life as the South Side Junior High School. At the time, many students dropped out of school at this age and junior high schools were being introduced as a response. This school was designed in the Classic Renaissance style, complete with Doric columns, carved pediments, and copper spandrels. After the Great Fifth Ward Fire in Houston on February 21, 1912 which consumed a church, a school, industrial plants and homes, it is no surprise that the school’s fireproof construction was touted, including not just concrete and stone, but interior partitions of hollow tile as well. Designed by architects Layton & Smith of Oklahoma City, the 3-story building, housing 800 students its first year, cost $300,000 to build and equip; this would be equivalent to $6,564,000 today.
In 1925, after the success of the junior high experiment, three more junior high schools were opened in Houston, and South End Junior High transformed into a Senior High School, adopting the name San Jacinto, in a small part so the athletic teams would not need new uniforms. A fountain in the Conservatory was added in honor of the school principal, Mr. Black.
To meet the ever growing need of the community, a classroom wing was added in full Art Deco style in 1927, which included a third floor cafeteria, followed by another addition in 1939 with a more spacious auditorium and firing range below the stage. Not only did these house a growing high school population, but also night classes given by the Houston Technical Institute. The school remained a functioning high school until 1970 when the Houston Technical Institute took over full ownership of the building. The current owner, Houston Community College, acquired the building in 1988. At 98 years old the building is in need of a comprehensive renovation and exterior facade restoration. BRW has been commissioned by HCC to design its rebirth as a facility ready for 21st century education with exterior restored to its original distinction. Check back soon for details on the renovation / restoration progress.
POSTED BY: CAROL KESLER