Historic Structures

Building Description Bastrop High School, Bastrop Louisiana

Bastrop High School (1927 & 1930) is a sprawling two-story brick institutional building redolent of early Renaissance England (the Jacobean Period). It is located on a large tract in a mixed commercial/residential area near the downtown of the parish seat of Bastrop. The school looks much as it did when expanded in 1930, with alterations confined to a missing rear gable and some cosmetic deterioration on the interior.

Bastrop High was constructed in two stages. The original 1927 portion faces west with a central range of classrooms and offices, two entrances with pavilions and a pair of side wings extending to the rear. A high single story gymnasium appended at the middle of the rear gave the original building an "E" footprint (see Sanborn map enclosed). In 1930, due to continued population growth, the building virtually doubled in size (same architect, same style). A "C" shaped range of rooms was appended to the east to link with the original building (see map). This created a continuous rectangle of classrooms, offices and other spaces that completely surrounded the gymnasium. In its new condition, the gym was afforded light and ventilation by a pair of narrow light courts. A single new entrance pavilion was added in the center of the now longer north and south elevations. The new rear (east) elevation was given two entrance pavilions to echo the original main front.

The school is raised approximately three feet on a basement story that contains a cafeteria, service space and the boiler room whose stack rises above the building mass. Each of the two upper floors is anchored by a continuous rectangular, mostly double loaded, corridor. The interiors are for the most part unadorned (as was typical). They feature smooth plaster walls and ceilings, a slight wainscot, wood veneer floors, broad black boards, banks of six over six windows with transoms, bungalow looking paneled doors (also with transoms), and transoms set in the walls for ventilation. An exception to the foregoing is the handsome second story Elizabethan looking library in the 1930 expansion with its paneled effects, dark wood shelves and openwork beam ceiling.

The large gymnasium is entered from the first floor and descends to the basement with steps, bleachers and a basketball court. Its flat roof is more or less level with the first story classroom ceilings. The rest of the building is flat roofed too and set behind parapet walls on the school's four public elevations.

Bastrop High School is sparingly though convincingly articulated in the Jacobean style with red brick walls and detailing set off in contrasting white cast concrete. Each entrance pavilion has a great round vestibule arch with impost blocks resting on panels and quoins. Crowning the composition is an angular rooftop gable parapet with upward thrusting finials. Flanking the arched entrances are Baroque-style cartouches. Although these are not, in and of themselves, Jacobean features, they mark the place where figure sculpture would be in a real English Jacobean great house.

The bands of multi-pane classroom windows are particularly pronounced. They are set off by systems of decorative quoins - a feature often found in early seventeenth century English brick great houses (though for corners not windows). The bands of windows themselves are also important in this respect. Broad bands of windows were a common feature in early twentieth century American schools regardless of style. But the Jacobean is one of relatively few historic styles in which windows were conventionally grouped. (In other styles being revived in the early twentieth century windows typically appeared singly.) The heavy horizontal glazing bar setting off the window transoms further enhances the late medieval effect.

Each of the blank end pavilion walls of the west (principal) elevation is marked with a massive panel of decorative diapered brickwork. Finally, the "ancient building" aspect of Bastrop High is given additional emphasis by the red brickwork itself, which is laid up in various tones of lighter and darker red to give texture.