|Leslie Junior High School, 1927 - 1937 (2014)|
The charter school will be moving out, and South Salem High School will expand into it the following year, but more change might be on the horizon.
A reader who attended one of the meetings about the May 2018 proposed bond measure reports that its demolition and replacement with new construction might be on the menu.
|Plan to demolish "oldest section" and swimming pool|
Long Range Facilities Plan, bond support materials
The reader wondered how seriously adaptive reuse and remodel of the old building had been seriously investigated, or if the bond committee had moved too quickly to land on "demolish" as the most convenient solution.
The building may not be a major architectural landmark for style, but it is at least of minor historical interest, and has a significant place in Salem's urban development as it moved south.
a note here about the school's architect Lyle Bartholomew the building was dated to 1937, but a recent history piece in the paper suggests an earlier and more piecemeal timeline.
“This structure of 20 rooms is merely the first unit of a building which some day will be twice as large. The first unit is in a “V” shape: The completed building will be a “W,” this plan being the most efficient in providing sunlight for every room and economizing corridor construction, according to the architects, James & Bartholomew,” the Oregon Statesman reported on Jan. 1, 1927.In fact there were two wings completed a decade apart, the second wing dedicated on the day before Thanksgiving, 1936.
At the meeting school representatives also talked about taking out the swimming pool and replacing it with parking.
|Leslie Swimming Pool - unloved for years!|
|Biking and walking to school coverage, 2013|
Brown Road at top without sidewalks
|Student and volunteer initiative is great,|
but the District should formalize support with capital projects,
like maybe a roof and lockers!
(rack installation last May - via SBBA)
|Construction of the pool, funded under the New Deal, 1934|
(Willamette Heritage Center / P 0083.041.0002)
Relative to recent institutional demolitions like Howard Hall at the Blind School and Le Breton Cottage at Fairview, saving the old Leslie seems less urgent. It is not the single remaining example of a type or of an institution. So the threshold to say "we really should save it," seems like it should be higher than on those other two buildings. The pool, however, might merit a lower threshold, as it is the single remaining instance of a type.
In the end, maybe it truly is impossible to fund the rehabilitation and reuse of the school and pool, but appears on the surface that we move too quickly to the convenience of demolition in order to favor the shiny and new - or, in the case of a new parking lot, the sticky and matte black of asphalt.
We haven't been following the bond closely here, but if you are following it, and especially if you have kids in the schools, there are probably other interesting questions about the proposed bond, particularly whether it now works synergistically with the new Safe Routes funding and goals for Physical Education and activity.
The remaining meetings on it are:
- November 8 at Sprague High School
- November 13 at McNary High School
- November 15 at Straub Middle School (for West Salem feeder schools)
- November 16 at McKay High School