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