Walbridge Elementary School

Walbridge Elementary, in Walnut Park, has some pesky trees in the way that make taking clear shots of its entire front facade difficult. Luckily a photograph from the 1950s shows just what a beautiful composition the school is.

Walbridge School, April 1952, Missouri History Museum, P0900-28671-01-4a

It was designed by Rockwell Milligan and opened in 1922. It continues the Ittner/Milligan firm’s tradition of synthesizing historical styles together, but as usual with many of the elementary schools, and unlike the high schools, the design moves to the south of Europe.

Walbridge’s front portal’s architectural style can be best described as a restrained version of the churrigueresque style, a flamboyant variant of the Baroque expressed by Native American sculptors in Latin America. Compare the portal to the more “pure” Baroque Revival front entrance of Shenandoah Elementary in Tower Grove East. Milligen’s work in this style reaches its apex of complexity in the former Kennard Elementary School.

Taking European American architects’ designs, they combined it with the often florid decoration of Pre-Columbian sculpture. This is a wonderful school, and a gem that is still open.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. S. Richie says:

    I attended Walbridge 1948 – 1951. Even as a child, I thought the building was just beautiful. I can still recall many of the interior features.

    1. Enoch Page says:

      I do recall the beauty of the building.

  2. G. Martin says:

    I was bussed to Walbridge Elementary School (predominately white), from LACLEDE Elementary (all black) School. We didnt have school busses therefore, we were transported in chartered BiState busses. This was during the late 50s. Only grades 4-6 were transported. I think this was in support of integration.

    1. Enoch Page says:

      Hi G. Marti, I also was bussed from LaClede school to Walbridge, but later than you, it seems. Thanks for you post because I didn’t know students were being bussed from LaClede to Walbridge as early as the 1950s. I have vivid pleasant memories of other St. Louis schools I attended but due to my largely unpleasant experiences of Walbridge, my member of that school is quite blurred. Do you recall the years you were bussed? Did anyone just get bussed for half a year? I believe I was bussed in the 6th grade, returned to Laclede for the 7th in 1963-1964, and graduate in spring 1965 from the 8th grade. But just how long I was a Walbridge does not register in my memory. What year and grades where you bussed? Something you say might help to jog my memory.

  3. William Berg says:

    My Dad went to Walbridge in the 30s. He then went to Beaumont High School for three years before WWII and the Marine Corp ended his formal schooling. When he was an old man living in Florida, his educated, white golf buddies would ask him where he went to school. He would reply, “Walbridge”. The old white snobs didn’t push further. Obviously, they thought Walbridge was some elite, eastern academy and wouldn’t want to expose their ignorance.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      That’s a great story! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sharon Gartner says:

    I attended Walbridge started around 1956 and graduated in 1966. I loved it there.
    We realized that there were other children in the building that we seldom saw or heard. If memory serves me, they were bused in from another school. There classrooms were on the south end of the building. I didn’t understand what was going on and why we didn’t have any activities together, ie, lunch, recess, etc. When I asked about it, I was told that their school was crowded and they were just using the space. Still thought it was very strange.

  5. Hans Lothander says:

    I attended Walbridge 1963 until graduation in ‘67. Te way I remember it, there was a Sight Class whose students went back and forth between their ‘home room’ and the regular classroom depending on the subject. Some of them were bused in. Later integration became mandatory. In my class there were 4 bussed in kids, out of a total of about 40. I guess al the schools were overcrowded.

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