Written 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.
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."
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