Photo Essay

My Old School

Scullin School Chalkboard

St. Louis is known for many things, "Brick City" or "Mound City" and it's famous lack of regard for preservation. I saw a lot of bricks this spring , as well as mounds of debris as I spent the spring touring and photographing abandoned St. Louis City Schools. The St. Louis Public School district scheduled public open house of over 30 closed schools that had fallen into disrepair in the hopes that the schools could be redeveloped and re-purposed. It was sad to see lovely, turn of the century buildings abandoned and neglected. Century old schools were looted, vandalized and many have extensive water damage. Thieves removed copper wiring and the freeze thaw cycle left lots of peeling paint. These 100 year old buildings contiue to fall into disrepair and attract crime into the area.

Beautiful , brick buildings, many by architect William Ittner suffered from benign neglect. It was a challenge to photograph these schools as all were without electricity so I had a lot of low light conditions. Dodging downed ceilings, soggy insulation, dead animals, glass shards and mold, I spent a glorious spring photographing the beautiful chaos of cracked walls and peeling paint. Wearing long sleeves, long pants and sturdy shoes to protect me from scratches, broken boards and rusty nails, I captured the broken windows, graffiti and school artifacts left by the former inhabitants. As I toured the schools I heard lots of comments and ideas on how to revitalize these shuttered schools. Artist spaces, low income housing, apartments and office spaces were some of the ideas tossed around. Some of the buildings are selling for as little as $100,000 and others for over $2 million. I hope some of the irreplaceable architecture of these shuttered schools can be saved. I'd like to thank the St. Louis Public Schools Building Revitalization Collaborative for hosting the tours. I wish you much success with your project.

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—The JPG team

5 responses

  • JPG

    JPG gave props (12 Jul 2015):

    Congrats on Story of the Week!

  • Marela

    Marela gave props (14 Jul 2015):

    Love these images. Well taken.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (16 Jul 2015):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (16 Jul 2015):

    Congrats on making Story of the Week!

  • John Tanner

    John Tanner gave props (24 Apr 2016):

    Well done !!!

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