site index

   Picture of the Day
yesterday | today tomorrow

September 29, 2005

                                seattle cleveland high school auditorium
                                (before 2005 remodeling)

They sure don't build 'em like this anymore. High ceilings, wide halls, 5-foot wide by 7-foot high
windows on lead sash weights that still slide open and closed with ease after almost 80 years.
Quality materials assembled with craft, precision, and thoroughness that bespeak human-ness;
the feeling one gets is that it was put together by hands, not prefabricated by machines to a set
of industry standard dimensions. Even the insides of tiny utility closets were finished with trim.
I guess by today's standards such attention would be considered inefficient. And I really don't
know much about the social conditions back then. How wide was the gap between poor and rich?
Was this grand building in keeping with the neighborhood, or did it serve as an inspiration to the
destitute to improve themselves through public education? What happened during the Depression?

We've been salvaging a lot of precious resources at Cleveland High School--slate and fir cabinets,
CVG boards, trim, doors, shelves. I used to think, Wow, this beautiful material almost was wasted. I
still think it's good we save it, but now I think about the trees that this wood used to be. The sun on
the leaves, the rain in the roots. The birds, squirrels, bugs, spiders, and other critters. The school,
built in 1927, was impressive as public institutions used to be, but I get to wondering about what
was taught here. Who did those lessons in patriotism, obedience, and the myth of progress serve?
Why should government be in charge of children? I always thought school was a prison. Still do.