Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Davey Days

Back at the end of September I had the chance to sub at Davey Elementary School for two days (September 30-October 1) for the gym teacher.  Subbing in gym is always fun mostly because it involves just having the kids play a game the entire time, plus, I get to wear "gym clothes" (i.e. t-shirt and warm-up pants) to school instead of khakis and a shirt and tie.  Anyway, subbing at Davey is always fun and interesting because of the history I have with that building and the history of the building itself.

Front of Davey after a snowstorm in February 2010.  The original part
of the building is very symmetrical
I attended what was then Davey Middle School from 1993-1996 in grades 6-8.  At the end of my junior year in 1999, Davey was closed and renovated for a year after Stanton Middle School was done.  In 2000 it reopened as Davey Elementary, replacing Central Elementary, which was turned into an annex of the high school.  The Davey building has quite a history itself.  The original part of the building opened in 1922 as Roosevelt High School.  During the late 1930s/early 1940s, an annex was built behind the building to house industrial education.  It would be the high school until 1959, when it was rededicated as Davey Junior High School after the current high school on North Mantua Street opened.  In the late 1960s, a 2-story addition was added to the school, which included a new cafeteria and extra gym.  Davey Junior High was initially for grades 7-9 until the late 1970s when ninth-graders were moved back to Roosevelt.  During the mid 1980s the first 6th graders were brought to Davey, first all of the sixth grades, and finally just part of them.  From about 1986 until 1999, 6th graders from 2 of Kent's 5 elementary schools went to Davey while the rest stayed at their elementary schools.  I went to Walls Elementary, which was one of the two who sent 6th graders to Davey.  It was an unusual setup that existed only because Davey was simply not quite big enough for all the 6th graders.  The setup ended only after the larger Stanton Middle School opened in 1999.  In 1993, the whole team-teaching concept was introduced and Davey was officially rededicated as Davey Middle School, even though it had been a 6-8 school for several years by then.  What was funny was they made a big deal about it (it was even on TV) and took the words "Junior High" off the building, telling us it would be replaced with "Middle".  Well, that never happened.  To this day, it still says "Davey School" with Davey and School very far apart.

December 2006 picture showing the 1966 addition and the words on the front
The renovations to convert the building to use as an elementary school were pretty extensive.  Some of the older parts of the building were restored to be close to what they would've looked like in the 1920s, though many parts were simply ignored or modernized.  Of course all the junior high school lockers had to be removed, smaller chairs and desks brought in, and many rooms were completely gutted and/or partitioned.  Virtually all of the doors were replaced and the entire building was renumbered (so I can't use any of the room numbers I remember!).  The wing where the upper gym, girls locker room, and industrial arts rooms had been was completely stripped and converted into a preschool wing.  It's easy to see where the gym used to be on the outside of the building, but you'd never guess inside where it used to be.  The double doors that used to be the gym's entrance to the hallway are now the entrance to the hallway connecting each of the preschool rooms.  It's weird being in the school because it's the same building I went to, but it's different at the same time; like a shell of its former self.

Subbing in the gym was fun for the history side of me as the gym has seen quite a few changes.  One of the cool things about Davey is how fairly easy it is to see the many changes that have been made over the years to the building.  There are numerous bricked-over windows and doorways, some very obvious, others not so obvious.  The gym, which I and many others knew as the "lower gym", is part of the original 1922 building and has had several changes to it.  I brought my camera the 2nd day I was there and took some pictures during my lunch hour.  It was pretty fun exploring the hidden rooms of old Davey and noticing certain things I had long suspected about the building's past or never realized!  If you went to Davey, you will definitely be able to relate to these pictures.

The former boys locker room, now just used for storage.
The boys locker room actually has two parts, this part being the "lower" locker room that is under the auditorium.  It's like frozen in time with the floors clean, the showers empty, and the lights and restrooms still functioning.
Just past the doorway seen in the back of the first picture.  This room was used for storage when I was in school and I believe held equipment.  It was obviously used by the teams too.  Most of these signatures came from the period just before it ceased being used as a middle school, the 1990s.
Just beyond that room is another long room that was also used for storage and today is obviously just not used at all.  I long suspected there had been a staircase in this part of the building and this confirmed it.  See the remains of the staircase on the right side?  It was the bottom leg of the staircase on stage left of the auditorium.
Another view of the former staircase with one stair still remaining in a much different color than the stairs that still exist above it.
Looking the opposite direction from the former staircase, I discovered that this was also an alternate entrance to the gym. The shelf straight ahead is in what used to be a doorway.  The former doorway is visible behind the bleachers in the gym.
Another thing that surprised me in that same hallway were these bricked up windows.  Davey is built on the side of a hill, but apparently, the side against the hill was exposed, at least enough to have windows in the basement level.  If you went through these walls today you'd be underneath the 1966 addition.
Inside the gym. The windows on the right had long been bricked up when I was in school but were uncovered as part of the 1999-2000 renovations.  Other bricked up windows can be seen below them.  Behind the basketball hoop is a wall covering up what used to be a balcony that apparently ringed the gym on three sides at one point.  The former balcony was later covered up and leveled and is used as storage today.  When I was in school it was the "green room" for the adjacent stage.  
Rarely-used staircase seen in the far right corner of the previous picture.  A bricked-up window can be seen as well as where the upper staircase (which led to the upper level of the balcony) was blocked off and covered.  To the left of this picture is the "new" entrance to the former balcony.
Inside the former balcony, which I knew as the "green room" since it connects with the stage. Originally it had tiered levels, the evidence which can be seen along the walls (not in this picture...it's covered by the shelves) and below it.
Given the symmetry of the building, I often wondered why the gym didn't seem to follow that.  Turns out it mostly did but was later changed.  This bricked up door is right next to the current door that goes to a staircase that leads up to the cafeteria.  If the bricked up door were reopened, it would lead to an area underneath the cafeteria.  At the other end of this wall, there is another bricked up door.
View of the bleachers.  The former door mentioned a few pictures earlier that led to the now-removed staircase (it has a shelf in the doorway now) can be seen here.  Above the doorway the areas of the wall with plaster as opposed to brick are where the balcony and its supports once were.  I do not know when this part of the balcony was removed, but these markings are on this wall behind the bleachers and the other end zone, something I never noticed.  
Outside the gym where several bricked-up windows can be seen.  Along the bottom of the walls, you can even see where the ground originally was.  The doorway and window on the far left of the picture are part of the 1966 addition.  As far as I know, the newer-looking bricks on the far right of the picture were a small addition to the locker rooms at the same time.  At the top of the building, some of the bricks have been replaced as part of the 1999-2000 renovations.
Another view of the gym.  The four glass-block windows are in what used to be the balcony.  The smaller bricked-up windows in the middle are all part of the rooms that were originally built as dressing rooms for the stage but are now simply blocked off.  The larger bricked-up windows on the right were the windows for the stage right staircase to those dressing rooms.
More bricked-up windows on the back of the school, looking to the right of the previous picture.  The windows on the far right are part of an emergency exit staircase.  The bricked-up windows that alternate in the center of the picture are for the restrooms (right side) and a staircase (left side).  A bricked-up window from the auditorium can be seen just to the left of center next to one of 2 windows that were re-opened as part of the 1999-2000 renovations.

Inside the hallway, the outside of which can be seen on the left side of the previous picture, that connects stage right to one of the main staircases.  My mom said she had a locker here when she went to the school in the late 1960s.  This is largely what it looked like when I was in school; a storage area.  Inside this hallway I discovered that the bricked-over area for the large auditorium windows seen in the previous picture actually extends even lower (different color bricks seen on left), which leads me to believe that this hallway was added later, or was at least covered later.
Behind the school is the former football and track stadium.  Although the high school moved to a new building in 1959, the current stadium wasn't built until 1970, so this was home to Rough Rider athletics for several decades and was known as Bowers Field.  It is still used for lacrosse practice and some youth football.  When I was at Davey, the old bleachers were still standing on the far side of the field and we'd often sit in them when we'd go outside after lunch.  They were removed in 2006.
Supports for the former grandstands that I mentioned above which were removed in 2006.
View of the back of Davey as seen from the field.  There were also stands on the grassy hill according to my mom, who played in marching band at this stadium until her senior year.
Doorway to the "office" of the gym (which connects to the former boys locker room) where you can see the old floor underneath the current floor.  I also discovered that this doorway was added later.  Just to the right of it is a bricked-over doorway I had never noticed.

1 comment:

Kymberly Foster Seabolt said...

Great shots Jon! As a former "Davey Jr. High" student in the early 80's (and a terrified new 7th grader who thought it was HUGE and I would surely get lost forever!) this brought back so many memories.

I was sad to hear the bleachers are gone. Spent many lunch hours hanging around on those.