Investing in Mann School

by Michael R. Allen

Throughout 2009, the preservation community was startled by the February announcement by St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams that 17 schools were closing. Among the superintendent’s recommendations was the consolidation of Mann School (located at 4047 Juniata Avenue) in Tower Grove South with Sherman School in Shaw at the site of Mann School, which would be demolished for a new building.

Thankfully, that plan did not come to pass. Mann School survived the 2010 round of closings and Adams never again mentioned demolition or closure of the building, built in 1901 and 1916 according to designs by nationally-renowned master architect William B. Ittner.

Although Mann survived closure, the future of the building was not certain. That has changed. In May, the Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public Schools allotted contracts for restroom renovations and tuckpointing at the building. The investment in the building is good news to Tower Grove South, where Mann School is an important neighborhood anchor.

One of the reasons for Adams’ 2009 recommendation was the performance of students at this elementary school. Concerned neighbors formed the Alliance to Preserve Mann School, and parents and teachers worked on school performance. The closure proposal was a sobering reminder that architectural pedigree alone does not keep schools open. Public buildings are expressions of public culture. Mann’s construction reflected the ideals of the early 20th century, and its maintenance today reflects continued neighborhood investment in the school’s future.

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3 Responses to Investing in Mann School

  1. Archytech says:

    Michael-
    I’d like to add that elevators, ramps, and misc ADA accessibility are key improvements to this building as well. It proves, as is, to be one of the worst in the system accessibility wise. The city stipulated that no permits would be issued without ADA improvements.

  2. Thank you for the information. Mann School will be in great shape after the work is completed.

  3. samizdat says:

    A little FYI about Horace Mann here:  http://www.biography.com/people/horace-mann-9397522

    His six Principles of Education:

    (1) Citizens cannot maintain both ignorance and freedom
    (2) This education should be paid for, controlled, and maintained by the public
    (3) This education should be provided in schools that embrace children from varying backgrounds
    (4) This education must be NONSECTARIAN [emphasis mine]
    (5) This education must be taught using tenets of a free society
    (6) This education must be provided by well-trained, professional teachers.
     
    There is no f***ing way in hell that a free society can be maintained when tax dollars devoted to a universal and free public education are diverted to corporate or religious endeavors specifically designed to hollow out the public treasury in order to decimate not only the concept of, but the institution of public education. Charter schools are just that endeavor. Any citizen who believes that charter schools are a viable and legal remedy to the vicious lie (PRopaganda) that public schools are failing our children is either profoundly mistaken, or is in on the scam. I suggest that readers dig a little deeper to find the truth about the charter school movement. The main problem with our society vis a vis public schools and any alleged failure is the grossly unequal and inequitable economic conditions under which a growing number of our population suffer. This has been corroborated numerous times in study after study over the last three decades. The charter schools which have been set up across the country are more often than not worse than the ‘failing’ public schools they supplant. There is ample evidence which indicates that charter schools are not only not exceeding public school performance, but are in fact woefully inadequate to the task of instructing our children in the tenets of a free society. Unfortunately, the successful PRopaganda campaign to denigrate our public schools, and in fact, most public services, and the employees who perform those functions, has already done tremendous damage to our society.

    Full disclosure: My wife and I have no children of our own, and I was taught at Catholic schools during my primary and secondary education. However, I am firm in my belief that our Nation WILL FAIL if the right of a free education, unsullied by corporate or religious influence and indoctrination, is not made available to every young person in this country, citizen or no.

    The charter school scam is an excellent example of the Movement Conservative program to dismantle every public program which we the citizens have built over the last 125 years. Public parks, including our treasured National Parks, Monuments, and Preserves: gone. Publicly-owned water supply and treatment? Privatized and plundered. Parking? Already happening. Fire protection, police, schools? Under way. This radical and extremist Movement is a disgrace to our American values. Does not the Constitution say “promote the general Welfare”? What can possibly be wrong with turning over the operation of these public entities to a corporation, whose only goal is profit? Obviously, this question answers itself. We as a People instituted these public facilities because the corporate model was either massively corrupt, or simply didn’t care to provide these services. Now that the infrastructure is in place, paid for out of our tax dollars, the corporation is all too happy to swoop down like vultures to take possession.

    Profit which comes at the expense of human and animal life is both immoral and unethical.

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