Historic Structures

Joint High School, Rochester Indiana

Date added: January 15, 2021 Categories: Indiana School

The original name of Joint High School is from the joint agreement between the City of Rochester School System and Rochester Township to form one high school. Rochester High School was started in 1874 in Central School, which was across Pontiac Street and was commissioned by the State Board of Education on December 16, 1884. By 1912, there was a need for more classrooms and laboratories which made the construction of a new high school necessary.

The school board spent several years working on developing a plan for the new structure. These efforts included visiting other schools in other cities, examining plans, and hiring an Indianapolis architect, Charles E. Bacon, to perfect the plans. City school board members were Mr. True, Mr. Leonard, and Mr. Copeland. The township trustee was Mr. Wylie and his advisory board was Mr. Kline, Mr. Matthias, and Mr. Rogers. These men are given credit for providing a building the community really needed.

The school was one of the most modern of its type. It housed botany, chemistry and physics laboratories on the second floor and classroom and administrative offices on the first floor. Domestic economy and manual training laboratories, plus boiler room, were in the basement. In addition to the academic areas, this building also had a gymnasium with a basketball floor of 50' x 75' with seating in the balcony for about 250 spectators and an assembly room large enough to seat 300 students.

The new school was designed to incorporate new curriculum in domestic economy and manual training. These courses represent the desire of the school system to provide practical training as well as academics. Domestic economics taught cooking, sewing and dietetics. The classroom contained a cooking laboratory. Manual training dealt with woodworking, turning, and mechanical drawing. The shop was equipped with a lathe, a jointer and a universal saw.

The 1958 addition included a metal and wood shop on the first floor with a band room and chemistry lab on the second floor. This addition provided additional space required to keep up with the increasing enrollment.

The building was used as a high school or middle school until the property was sold to the City of Rochester in 1975. The building served as a civic center from 1975 until 1992 and housed many organizations in that time period. The school is located two blocks west of the downtown in a residential neighborhood, intermingled with churches, which allowed this relatively large structure to fit in very well with its surroundings.

The building faced west with the main entrance on Pontiac Street. The site is one-half block with the exception of the church on the northwest corner. The street trees between the sidewalk and the street help maintain a residential character. The site also included a parking lot north of the building. The athletic fields were across Pontiac Street at the old Rochester High School. These fields and the high school no longer exist.

The building was demolished in December 1992 to make way for a new senior center.