Historic Structures

Ralph Waldo Emerson School, Gary Indiana

In the area of education, Emerson School was the first of the five Gary schools designed by architect William Butts Ittner to be built specifically to utilize the Platoon System, a famous educational innovation first instituted in Gary. Students were divided into two groups; one to study academic subjects, the other to study vocational and cultural subjects. The groups switched activities during the day, ensuring that all students would study both kinds of subjects and the classrooms would be in use the whole time. This system was the forerunner of our present high school curriculum. Emerson is also significant in the area of social history for its role in the planned company town of Gary, where it was used to assimilate immigrant children and adults into American society, and to instill those values deemed important by commxanity leaders. Finally, it is significant for its association with William A. Wirt, Superintendent of Schools in Gary. Wirt developed the Platoon System in Gary, and introduced it into schools nationwide. Emerson was designed according to Wirt's instructions and included special rooms for recreational and vocational classes. It was the first public school in Indiana to have an indoor swimming pool. In 1907, William Wirt was hired to become the first Superintendent of Schools in the new planned community of Gary, created by U.S. Steel. Wirt believed that urban influences could be harmful to weak-willed youth, leading them to crime and vice. His schools would train children to resist temptation by instilling the values formerly taught by church, home, and the farm. One of his theories was that children should be trained to be useful members of society, while giving them the freedom to choose activities that suited their needs. To this end, he instituted what he called the Work-Study-Play plan, also known as the Platoon, or Gary System. Emerson School was the first of five schools designed expressly to utilize this system.


Campbell Union Grammar School, Campbell California

Located on the northeast corner of what has become one of the busiest intersections in the valley, this school is significant because it was and still remains a focal point of identity for this community. Built in 1922, it became the first Campbell Union Grammar Schools as a result of the consolidation of four districts in this once rural agricultural area. The building's monumental size with its classical lines provides a strong visual impact on our city as it serves as the westerly entrance to the historic old downtown core. Architect William H. Weeks' use of selective plantings to soften the building and a large set-back create a park-like atmosphere on the front and side facing the two streets. With the consolidation of Hamilton, San Tomas, Meridian and Campbell districts, which comprised about 14 square miles, the voters also approved a $155,000 bond issue in 1921. Architect William H. Weeks, who was familiar to the Campbell community as he had built the previous grammar school which became the high school annex after 1922, presented plans which were more elaborate than those actually accepted. However, he revised these drawings to meet the feelings and needs of the community. This was a strong point of Mr. Weeks. He designed schools as his local clients wanted them. This is most evident in the auditorium of this school, which was much larger than needed by the student body. However, the trustees wanted what would become a meeting place for the community and, as a result, it became the community center. Since Campbell was not incorporated as a city until 1952, it needed this central point upon which to build community identity.


Finch Hotel - Franklin Hotel, Spartanburg South Carolina

In 1916, W.T. Finch purchased a tract of land on East Main Street in order to enlarge the Hotel he operated on an adjacent tract. The original Finch Hotel was located at 123 South Liberty Street and began operation in 1910. Finch mortgaged himself heavily to Frank Hodges, a local businessman and continued to try to finish the Hotel project. The unfinished Hotel was sold at Public Auction to Frank Hodges for $201,000.00 Hodges later named the building The Franklin Hotel and operated the Hotel for over forty years. The Hotel was sold to the R.M. Caine Company of Greenville, SC, in the 1970's and became a boarding house with eighty of its two hundred rooms occupied in 1983. In August 1988 the City of Spartanburg purchased the Hotel and the structure was demolished in September 1988 to make room for a high rise office complex. The Finch Hotel (Franklin), located on East Main Street in downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina, was one of the leading hotels of the City during the early and mid-twentieth century. Constructed between 1918 and 1922, the hotel was erected during a period of rapid commercial and industrial growth. The luxuriousness of the hotel was well known and it became the center of social occasions. The hotel was so costly to build that the owner, W.T. Finch (born September 9, 1865, died May 20, 1959) was forced to sell the hotel in order to pay off construction costs. Finch, a native of Spartanburg, built a hotel in 1910 on South Liberty Street. A 1912 description of this hotel can be found in a folder marked Hotels in the Spartanburg County Library. Mr. Finch is described thus: He has by his noteworthy energy and enterprise made and gained an excellent reputation in all circles for his kind, courteous and genial attention to his guests.


Puget Sound Power & Light Company, White River Hydroelectric Project, Dieringer Washington

Prior to the arrival of whites, native Americans inhabited the White River Valley. Although little is known of the region's long history of native-American life, archeological evidence points to a number of settlements, as well as to hunting and gathering activities in the surrounding forests, streams, and prairie lands. Much more information exists on the first white settlers, who established themselves in the vicinity of the White River as early as 1853. Few in number, these settlers filed land claims which ranged in size from 160 acres to 320 acres. Most of these early claims encompassed the valley's fertile prairie land where white settlers, such as Michael Connell and James E. Williamson, built cabins and engaged in subsistence farming. Soon after white settlers entered the region, however, hostilities between whites and Indians arose, culminating in the Indian War of 1855-56. After the combined forces of federal troops and territorial volunteers defeated the native-American warriors, Indian reservations were established and a few whites returned to the White River Valley. From the mid 1850s to the 1880s, the White River Valley remained sparsely populated by whites. In contrast, the neighboring Puyallup Valley received larger numbers of homesteaders, led by Ira Meeker, who cultivated the land and established a lucrative hop-growing economy. The construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad to Tacoma in 1883 fueled this development and sparked a land boom in both the White and Puyallup river regions. Four years later the Northern Pacific completed its route through the Cascades via Stampede Pass and extended a branch line into the White River Valley. In addition, settlers had improved the Naches Pass wagon road, which eased travel through the upper White River Valley. By 1888, the towns of Buckley and Enumclaw boasted the largest population centers in the upper reaches of the valley and logging quickly rivaled farming as the region's most important economic activity.

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