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Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School is one of the many beautiful gifts bestowed on us by the firm of Ittner-Milligen, based on the architecture of public schools in Great Britain.

Roosevelt High School, 3230 Hartford Street, Photograph by W.C. Persons, Missouri History Museum, P0041-00004

Roosevelt was designed by Rockwell Milligen, and it opened in 1922.

It is the last public high school in the City of St. Louis on the south side that has a “territory,” meaning that if a student lives in a certain geographic area, he or she goes to that school. In this case, the entire south side is Roosevelt’s territory.

All other public high schools have specialties, such as Central Visual Performing Arts High School at Kingshighway and Arsenal.

Roosevelt, like its sadly closed compatriots the old Central and Cleveland, were built to be palaces of education; their huge, light-filled classrooms were revolutionary when they first opened.

Some might remember this was the site of Old Picker’s Cemetery, which is hard to believe that one hundred years ago, a sadly decrepit cemetery was on this ground. Legend has it they didn’t move all the bodies, and I certainly believe it.  New Picker’s Cemetery had its own sad story, as well, further down Gravois. Picker was a famous German Lutheran minister who married many of the famous brewers and their children in South St. Louis.

The architecture is Tudor Revival, which is the revival of the style of buildings that Henry VIII and Elizabeth I built as they sought to “catch up” to the more modern Italian Renaissance in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries. It is still the Gothic, in many ways, but it shows a modern bent, as education became more important than simply one’s birth and lineage in the Tudor Court.

Thomas More and Oliver Cromwell, men who were born to humble families, rose to power in buildings that looked like Roosevelt.

No detail is spared, whether it is these Gothic rosettes…

…or these stern entrance pylons at the front of the lawn.

Much like Cambridge or Oxford, a broad swath of green grass surrounds all of these high schools.

Even the back of the building, which is the “private side,” is elegantly designed.

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