The most comprehensive educational building program Montgomery has ever known was unfolded Wednesday by the city Board of Education in connection with its announcement of a land purchase for the projected $500,000 high school.
Twenty-four and a fraction acres, ideal in topography and location, abutting on Court street, Semmes Avenue and Goode street comprise the tract which the board of education has purchased at a total cost of $36,300. All deeds have been signed and are ready for probate.
Plans of the board of education contemplate the completion of a $500,000 building on this site, in time for use during the whole of the 1924-25 school year. With all details of transaction behind, the board will begin at once on the preliminaries. A topographical map will be made at once. From this architecture of the building will be evolved.
In announcing the plans the board of education through its president, L. C. Cardinal, declared that the location purchased represents the final choice after deliberations extending from last July, when bonds to the amount of one-million dollars were made available for educational purposes. Of this total, $250,000 have been sold.
It was pointed out that the property between Court and Goode streets was purchased only after, many other locations had been taken under advisement, and the matter of cost and topography thoroughly considered. The final selection, President Cardinal said, represents the conscientious choice of the board, with the good of all Montgomery citizens at heart.
The Lawrence street car line ends within a few yards of where the entrance of the projected high school will stand. Transportation of pupils to and from school was one of the paramount considerations, according to President Cardinal, who said that tha board has received assurance of full cooperation from the street railway company. Details of car service are to be worked out later, but it is anticipated that transfers will be obviated by special high school schedules.
Every detail of the projected plans for a new high school looks far into the future. President Cardinal said that the school board in its deliberations laid the foundation for an educational system, which not only will handsomely care for the present needs of Montgomery, but will allow for almost unlimited extensions, as population increases demand.
Reference to the plat of the purchase for the high school site In this issue of The Advertiser will show that the board of education now owns grounds far more expansive than the erection of one building will demand. Tentative plans contemplate erecting the $500,000 high school, with its facade 150 feet from Court street.
The terrain over which the building will be erected is such that no excavation will be necessary. As President Cardinal pointed out, nature has supplied the first story. It will be necessary to fill that portion of the ground which lies between the entrance and Court street. For that the plat has abundant dirt in the southwest corner.
The extreme northern portion of the purchase Is level and In the nature of a plateau. In addition to giving an entrance from Bemmee avenue, It is Ideal for ap athletic field.
In the southwest portion of the ground, the school board has a natural amphitheatre, of which it hopes to make a public meeting place for all outdoor pageants. Both President Cardinal and William R. Harrison, superintendent of Montgomery schools, emphasized the attitude of the board in thlnnatter. The purchase, they pointed out, was made primarily for educational purposes. Secondarily It has a broader function.
In this connection it came out that the auditorium of the new high school will be large enough for the most important public gathering.
Any speculation as to the type of architecture to be employed In the constructlon of the proposed high school building, would be wild, the president of the school board declared Wednesday. He pointed out that nothing has been done In this direction and cannot be done until a topographical map can be made. "This much can be said," he asserted. "We are going to erect a building that will adequately meet the needs of the city, and we are not going to stop short of our mark, when we get under way."
Lanier High School, it was pointed out, was erected with a view to caring for about 600 students. It is now called Into the service of more than twice that number. The projected building not only will relieve the congestion, but will provide better facilities. Lanier probably will be used as a Junior high school, according to Superintendent Harrison.
Three Major Deals
Acquisition of the tract on which the new high achool will be located was effected through three major and several minor transactions. The portion, wnich abuts on Court street, consisting of 11.4 acres, was purchased from the Ferris estate for $22,5OO. From the late Patrick Sweeney, the board bought two lots abutting on Semmes avenue, for $2,100. The remainder which is shown on the plat as the southwest portion comprises 11.2 acres and waa obtained from McDuff Cain for $11,700.
The terrain of the high school property Is rolling. The soil is said to be ideal for sodding, and is not likely to become muddy in rainy seasons.
In all probability the projected high achool will be erected without any provisions for extensions similar to those embodied in other buildings of the school system now under constructlon. It was pointed out that there is an abundance of room on the site, and that when the need demands more space, another building will be the likely solution of the problem.
"We do not know what the future of educational advancement is," declared the president of the board of education. "We do know, however, that the trend is to get away from the archaic ideas, and that it is more likely that public education will embrace more advanced curriculum, than that it will limit itself to elementary training. With this in mind, we do not think it unreasonable to assume that provisions will be made for higher learning in the public school systems of Alabama.
"If such should prove to be the ease, we are admirably suited to carry on in our recently acquired high school site. It may be that some day will find a technical school on the ground, and who knows, but that university training may become a part of the public schools? In any event, we will be in a position to keep in step."
President Cardinal went to some length in discussing the provisions to be made for athletics. In this connectlon he said: "The present Lanier high school has built up athletic connectlons with other similar institutions of the south that are a credit to Montgomery. Realizing the importance of this phase of education, it will not be the policy of this board of education to stint appreciations for fields and equipment. We can do this, we think, without laying undue emphasis on recreation as opposed to study and mental training.
"Neither are we going to limit our athletic appropriations to the high schools. The elementary schools are to come In for a share as well."
The vision which the board of education has conjured up, and which is to be reduced to physical facts, almost attains aspects of the stupendous. As explained in an interview Wednesday, the contemplated program, which is backed by a sufficiency of funds, is worthy of any city In America, and, when carried out, will place Montgomery in the front rank, so far as its educational facilities are concerned.
J. M. Garrett, a member of the board of education, and one of the foremost engineers of the South will be in direct charge of plans for construction. In addition to Mr. Garrett, and the president, the board of education is composed of Leopold Strauss, M. S. Whitfield, and Mrs. L. W. Tyson.
Board In Accord
The entire board and Superintendent Harrison are in accord on the building program. Not only do they agree fully on the projected plans which they have formulated after nearly a year of deliberation, but have given expression to elation over the outlook for adequate facilities for training the boys and girls of their city.
It is not likely that the $500,000 in bonds will be sold for the building of the new high school until much nearer the time of beginning. It was pointed out that there are many preliminary details to be worked out first.
While plans are going forward for a new high school to relieve the congestion at Lanier, three elementary school buildings, representing an expenditure of approximately $325,000, are under construction.
At the head of Forest avenue, the board of education has seven acres on which a modern, nine-room building is going up. The expenditure here will be upward of $125,000, and under the contract, the structure la to be completed by August 20.
The Forest Avenue school is being constructed with a view to extensions when future needs demand. It is equipped with auditorium and lunch room, the latter to be operated by the Parent-Teacher association, and will be as nearly fire proof as scientific construction can accomplish.
In the Forest avenue school construction, as in that of the other buildings now gojng up, the corridors are being made wide, and exits are plentifuL This school is situated in a community already thickly populated. The grounds are commodious and consist of a thick grove of pecan trees. All in all it will be one of the beauty spots in Montgomery.
In the corner of Goode street and Georgia avenue, a building similar to that at the head of Forest avenue is under construction. It is to be known as the Goode Street school, and like the other, is to have nine class rooms, an auditorium and a lunch room. The expenditure here will approximate $125,000.
Provide for 750
Together, the Goode Street school accommodate about 750 children without congestion. Both are easy of access for the neighborhoods which they are to serve, and both are to be equipped with modern and approved furnishings.
In West Jeff Davis avenue, the H. A. Loveless negro school is nearing completion. The same care has been exercised there for protection against fire hazzard. The hallways are wide and the steps are constructed so that egress will be facilitated.
Approximately $70,000 will be expended for the negroes in this portion of the city. Difficulties in sanitation were presented at this location, but these were overcome by installing a system of sceptic tanks. The Loveless school is constructed of brick veneer and will contain thirteen class rooms, designed to hold approximately 40 pupils each.
The grounds here are large and will accommodate any amount of playground paraphernalia. In the rear a space is left for an auditorium to be constructed some time in the future. Both wings of the school building are built so that extensions can be added without changing the architecture. The building will be ready for occupancy next school term.
Superintendent Harrison expressed deep gratification over the prospects of the 1923-24 school year which will be gone through without the congestion of recent years. He is heartily in accord with the board of education in its plans for the future.
In reciprocation the school board is squarely behind the superintendent, according to its president. President Cardinal Wednesday spoke very highly, of the morale of the school system. He pointed out that great progress has been made in this direction and that a high degree of efficiency has been reached already. The completion of three elementary schools and the subsequent completion of the half million dollar high school, it is believed will leave little undone for the immediate future.
With only one-fourth of its appropriation of bonds disposed of, the board of education now has $750,000 to be used. Two-thirds of this is to be used in the construction and equipment of the high achool. A part of the remainder is to be applied on improvements at several of the elementary schools. These improvements are now under advisement.
It is also understood that the board is considering the erection of another building for negroes. Details of this project have not matured enough for a definite announcement, according to the president of the board. In view of some of the contemplated improvements, it is likely that some of the bonds will be sold in the near future to meet immediate expenditures.