by Michael R. Allen
This week’s news of a reprieve for Sumner High School brought relief to the Ville neighborhood, where another public school remains vacant after closing this summer. Stately John Marshall School stands at 4342 Aldine Avenue between Newstead and Pendleton avenues. The three-story building in the Classical Revival style dates to 1900 and is one of architect William B. Ittner’s first uses of the E-Plan layout.
The entrance is imposing and formed by brick piers supporting a massing terra cotta entablature. Brown terra cotta is used there and surrounding the doorway, over which a bust of John Marshall watches.
Like Sumner, Marshall School is a crucial part of the cultural legacy of the Ville. During segregation, the school became an African-American intermediate school in 1918 and an elementary school in 1927. Many students who would pass through the doors of mighty Sumner High School, also designed by Ittner, would first pass through Marshall School.
What future may be in store for the shuttered Marshall School is uncertain. With deed restrictions against charter school purchase lifted by the St. Louis Public Schools, educational use is possible. For now, however, all that is certain is that the Ville does not need another vacant school building.