Monday, April 29, 2013

A Brookside High School Mystery

Okay, I'll admit it – I'm stumped. I sure hate to introduce another (groan) mystery to this blog, but here goes.

Several years ago I bought a copy of the 1937 Brookside High School The Leader yearbook on Ebay. It had this great old photo of how the school looked back then, and I looked forward to using it in one of my 'then and now' pairings.

In the yearbook, it reads, "A very beautiful lawn borders the school on the south and west." So I assumed that the view above is looking at the west side of the building in late afternoon.

So last fall I drove over the the building complex at Harris and Colorado to shoot the 'now' photo. But when I went to post it a few days ago, I had cold feet. Here's the photo of the current west side of the building fronting on Harris (below).

The problem? It just doesn't match up with the vintage photo. The building seems to be about the same size, but the windows, doors and chimneys are all in the wrong places. Could the building have been modified that much? I don't know.

Here's another vintage view of the building. Note the shrubs spelling out BHS; it would make sense for the letters to face either Harris Road (to the west) or Colorado Avenue (to the south).

Here's another view showing school buses (this is from the 1937 yearbook). Based on my theory, they are pulling out onto Harris Road.

And here's another view. Based on the chimneys, this view is the 'back' of the building – facing east.

Anyway, all of this bothered me – not knowing for sure, that is – so I studied an aerial photo of the current school complex (below).
I began to wonder. Perhaps the building with the chimneys shown in all these vintage photos isn't the smaller building with the white roof (facing Harris) but instead is the larger white roof building at the top of the photo.

The spouse went to middle school in that larger building in the 1970s and remembers the shoe scrapers mounted on the back steps of each classroom (you can see one in the photo below at the far right).

Anyway, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea! Could the view of the building shown in the vintage photo no longer exist because it's covered up by the various additions?

To find out, I drove around to the other side of this building (visible in the aerial photo) to find out. Here's what's left of that view (below) after all the additions. Could this be the original 'front' of the building?
Unfortunately – I don't know! This view doesn't seem to jive with the original, vintage photo at the top of this post either. Once again, doors are in the wrong place and plus, there is an ornate architectural feature above a door.

So – if any of you Brookside grads or Sheffield Village historians have any theories, please leave a comment!

I'm going to keep on looking (what else would I do with my time, edge my sidewalk?!).


This is actually the south side of the building –
(not the west side as I originally thought)
Ah, that was fast. I've been informed by Sandy Jensen that Ed Herdendorf of the Sheffield Historical Society (and author of the book Images of America – Sheffield Village) has my answer).

I had it all wrong (no surprise there).

As Mr. Herdendorf notes, "Anyway, there is really no mystery, the first view that he shows is looking at the south side of Brookside facing Colorado Avenue. On page 75 of the Images of America Sheffield Village book I show a similar view with Colorado Avenue still as a dirt road. In the mid-1950s the new gym was added which totally changed the south facade of the school."

At least it makes sense as to why I couldn't figure it out; the vintage view of the building no longer exists. The chimneys should have provided me with a clue! Oh well.

Special thanks to Mr. Herdendorf and Sandy for their help!


Anonymous said...

Dan I believe that Clearview High School along with a school in the Firelands system [Kipton] were built around the same time that Brookside was. All 3 schools looked the same. See if you can, find a picture of Clearview facing Broadway ave. also go to google maps and look at the current building on the corner of Vermilion Rd and Garfield rd [ the north west corner. thanks Bill N

Anonymous said...

A picture of Clearview in 1936

Anonymous said...

I clicked to quick...This is a better picture.

Dan Brady said...

Great shot of Clearview!

Wow--the Highland school sure does look similar to BHS. I guess it's kind of like now--the state has a template and the different school systems pretty much follow the same design.

Thanks, Bill!

Anonymous said...

I love old pictures of school buses!

How do you get away with taking photos of schools without someone coming up and questioning you?

Dan Brady said...

Wow--what a question. I do it when the school is not in session--such as on weekends or after hours so as to avoid any kids walking into the shot. I try to be real obvious so as not to appear sneaky or suspicious.

You bring up an excellent point, though. People who send their kids off to school would be rightfully upset if someone was snapping photos of them and then posting them on the internet.

Most of the time I'm photographing schools that are being knocked down anyway.

Anonymous said...

Clearview was part of the Sheffield Lake School system as Highland. It was 4-8 grade. BHS & CHS had the same design and look exactly the same. Clearview Local School District was formed in 1928 and the name was changed from Highland to Clearview. First graduation was held in 1931.