Maplewood History: Previous Unseen Images of Maplewood’s Second High School

Original is gift of the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation to the Maplewood Public Library

More stunning photos from the collection of Laura Varilek

Maplewood has had three high school buildings.  Some of the images that Ms. Varilek was kind enough to share have caused me to take a look at our historic record.  You get to look too.

I think it is worth mentioning that James C. Sutton Sr. was very active in the establishment of the first school in the area.  He was the board chairman until 1866 when his son, John L., took over.  He, in turn, was succeeded by his brother, James, Jr., who served until 1908.  The district had continuous leadership from the Sutton family, the father and his two sons for over fifty years!

In 1882, the site was purchased and a one-room schoolhouse was erected and called Bartold Valley School.  The site was directly across Manchester from our present day city hall.

From The 1911 History of St. Louis County by William Lyman Thomas.

Miss Ella Smith, who taught for forty-two years (1867-1909), is in the center of the rear row.  Boy, she looks like fun, doesn’t she?  Mr. Thomas’ daughter, Emma B. is next to her as is Sarah Harrison, Ms. Varilek’s great-great grandmother.

One of my sources says another room was added in 1889.  At first the school was called the Bartold Valley School.  This was later shortened to just the Valley School.  In 1892, a four-room two-story addition was added.  In 1901, the first brick building was added- a two-story, four-room addition in front of the eight wood-frame rooms.

From the December 1904 edition of the Suburban Journal.

In the above image, the four-room wood frame building can be seen in the rear.  The area was having growing pains that the school administrators were continually trying to accommodate.

Gift of the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation to the Maplewood Public Library 2015

In this view which is from a postcard, we get a slightly different angle on it.

Original is a gift to the Maplewood Public Library from the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation.

This image provides us with an excellent view of the inside of one of those rooms.  Unfortunately I don’t know which room or when the image was made.

Original is gift of the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation to the Maplewood Public Library

Lining them up against one of the brick walls was a good place to take a group class photo as this image from 1909 illustrates.

Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

I don’t have a date for this one.  They’re a good looking bunch, don’t you think?

In 1906, an election was held and the school board was expanded from three directors to six.  By 1907, the decision had been made to offer high school courses at the Valley School location.  The first class graduated in 1911.  The ceremony was held at the Maplewood Theater at 7320 Manchester, known since 1916 as Scheidt Hardware.  True Value to you newcomers.

In 1910, the County Court decreed that the district would be called The School District of Maplewood and Richmond Heights.  The population of this area was growing rapidly.  The evidence of the changes at Valley School can be seen in this postcard from 1915.

By 1916, the population had outgrown the Valley site and a piece of property was purchased at Sutton and Lyndover.  A new high school was built on the site and a very fine high school it was.  I have heard citizens who went to school there refer to it as the Lyndover school.

From the Maplewood News-Champion.

This beautiful school was demolished in the 1970s (Correction: 1985).  You have to wonder why when you look at what a fine building it was.  Declining enrollment, I suppose.  Still it seems a shame to have lost it.  The empty site is now known as Ryan Hummert Park.

Courtesy of Laura Varilek.

This is another of the many fine images that Laura Varilek has shared with us.  I had never seen the building from this angle before.  Having the car, which is appropriate for 1917, in the image is great.  The building looks so much more modern than the car.

Courtesy of Laura Varilek.

Now here is an image of the sort we’ve come to appreciate from Ms. Varilek.  This is another exceedingly rare image, looking east, taken from either the roof of the high school or one of the upper stories.  The athletic field survives in the park.

Courtesy of Laura Varilek.

So how about this one?  Talk about rare.  Part of the roof of the building is in the image.  It is looking to the north at the neighborhood which is under construction!  Many of these homes had been recently constructed on what had been the Bruno farm which lay just north of Sutton’s.   A little to the right in the center of the picture, one can see the roof of a four square house with a dormer.  That is the original farmhouse of the Bruno family.  It still exists at Bruno and Oakview terrace.  Whew!  Thank you, Laura.

Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

This image was made looking in the same direction as the prior one.  It is a few years newer obviously owing to the number of houses that hadn’t built yet in the previous image.

In 1917, the Maplewood-Richmond Heights school district had a brand new, state-of-the-art high school.  The population kept increasing.  Twelve years later, they were building the school that we still use today.  The school at Sutton and Lyndover became the Junior High.

Doug Houser 2007
Doug Houser 2007

Our Ittner-designed high school is a beautiful building.  It is a significant piece of Art Deco era architecture, deserving of protection.  But that’s another story.

I just want to say thanks again to Laura Varilek for all of the amazing images, documents and artifacts that she has shared with us.

I copied everything in my Maplewood History folder a few days ago.  I now have over 30,000 files, 74 gigs of mostly just Maplewood history.  I intend, as I have in the past, to share everything with our library in Maplewood and with the State Historical Society of Missouri.

As our winter approaches, I think of those poor folks in Ukraine who will suffer due to the inhumanity of a mad man.  I’m going to send a check to help them.  If you’re able I’d urge you to do the same.

As always, I appreciate your interest and support.

Doug Houser        December 1, 2022

The junior high school was demolished in 1985 and not in the 1970s as I first wrote.  thanks to readers Mark and Susan for calling me out on this one.

Both articles found with




  1. Doug, thank you for posting this collection. Is there a year referenced on the image of the baseball game from the Maplewood Library? There is exceedingly little documentation of Maplewood baseball prior to 1950.

  2. I have been told that the reason the old school buildings fell out of use was that they were almost impossible to afford to heat and cool, the tall ceilings , none of the large windows had storm windows to retain heat, wood casements didn’t seal well. Has anyone else heard why we no longer use these wonderful buildings? I’m not sure if this is really the reason, as many of the schools have been turned into condos. Really have been enjoying the photos, thanks Doug.

    • Mary, A lot of the products and procedures that have been used in recent years to convert buildings like this one from public use to private residential use just weren’t around that far back. I am thankful for the beautiful buildings that were once part of the St. Louis school system that have been converted. At the same time I am very worried for the vacant ones that still exist that haven’t. And you’re welcome.

  3. A couple of things caught my eye. In the picture with the students in the desk I have to wonder if they were told to dress up for picture taking or if that was how they dressed everyday. It was a different time back then and you see that same thing at people going to ball games in a suit and tie like the kids in the pictures have on. Wondering if that was everyday dress for school in those days.

    Secondly your notation says the school on Lyndover and Oakview was torn down in the 1970’s. I thought I was not here yet and remember the high school being there. I thought it was more like the early to mid 80’s. I thought I recalled watching the building getting knocked down with my son who was born in 84. Could be I am thinking about the old Masonic Lodge that we watched being torn down a few times. He loved seeing the big machines at work.

    • My family moved to Maplewood in 1978 and the old junior high building was still standing at that time. I’m not sure when it stopped being used as a school but I know it was used as a storage building for old school related items that where no long being used by the district. Right before it was to be torn down I remember my parents and us kids going to a sale of some kind there. I got real excited about some old schoolbooks that I had used in grade school and I remember running around on the bleachers and the field as well. The building fascinated me because my parents had lived in the apartments right across the street from the school back in the late 1950s and early 1960s and they had lots of stories about the school at the time. I’m fairly certain that it was torn down in the mid 1980s in the same timeframe I was at Valley School, which was 5th-8th grade at the time. I still have a couple of bricks from the building that I picked up after the demo was completed against my dad’s wishes.

    • Mark, I don’t know about the clothing but I think you may be right. As for when the building was demolished, you and reader Susan are correct. I’ll post what I found on above. I relied on my memory for that detail something I shouldn’t do. Thanks for your recollection and comments.

  4. That was a great post. I love Maplewood architecture and the stories behind it. I’m grateful that people donate their old photos so we can all enjoy them. I wonder how many others are still out there waiting to be seen.

    • No way of knowing, Melissa. Every time I think that we’ve used up everything that is likely to be seen, more shows up. Keep your fingers crossed.


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