Bring a School to the Historic District

This is the 14th post in a series of posts this December that will chronicle the 25 things we would most like to see in Roswell. None of these are actually happening... at least in the way we'd like them to. Please enjoy and have a happy holidays! 

This is one of my favorites on the wish list.  Every day when I drive up Atlanta Street, I pass the Presbyterian church on the left and Krispy Kreme on the right.  The intersection at Atlanta and Oak Streets is pretty barren except for those two landmarks.  As most of you know, the Presbyterian church has a large parking lot that Oak Street dead ends into and then on the west side of that lot is the Teaching Museum North and North Crossroads school.  What if we could do something with that entire space and bring a logical civic presence into the heart of the historic district?  Look at the size of the space on the Google map below.

I would envision either a charter elementary/middle or a county run elementary school in this location.  The main entrance would be on Atlanta street.  This would be a grand facade in Greek revival style to complement the historic homes in the area such as Bulloch and Barrington Halls.  The bus and car entrance would be along Mimosa however to ensure that traffic along 9 is not impacted during the morning rush hour.  

As far as design goes, I really just don't get how our country started designing its schools in the same vernacular as its prisons.  No wonder our educational standing in the world keeps falling.  The first image below is that of the Clinton Middle School in Tulsa, OK.  This particular image was the Eyesore of the Month on James Howard Kunstler's blog back in March 2010.  After that, take a look at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, Scottland which was designed in the Greek Revival style in the early 1800's.  

Which one of these two buildings is going to inspire more learning?  

Fortunately, we don't have anything as dismal as the Clinton Middle School building here in Roswell but we could do a lot better.  Now, the Edinburgh school is a touch over the top.  Maybe we could go for something a little more tame such as the Providence High School in the Village of Providence in Huntsville, AL

The topography and size of the lot would require a multiple story school most likely on top of parking.  The parking would be shared with the church in the evenings and on Sundays.  It could also be used to provide extra space for city events.  I know this one is just a dream but if Roswell is going to focus on the Atlanta Street corridor for growth, a new elementary school is going to be vital.  I believe that focusing on education and giving it a prominent position in the community in the heart of the historic district will pay dividends for years to come.  


Additional reading:

Here's a great blog post on school size and design from Stephen Mouzon that focuses on Providence High School in the Village of Providence.  

Here's another excellent post from Kaid Benfield at NRDC on Great Principles for Smart Growth Schools.


images: Google,, Wikipedia, Stephen Mouzon