Historic Structures

Building Description Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary Indiana

Theodore Roosevelt High School is a large, three/four story building situated near the southern end of an eighteen acre park-stadium complex in a residential section of central Gary, Indiana. The area is bordered by 21th Street on the north, 25th Street on the south, Jackson Street on the east, and Harrison Street on the west. The school complex occupies the southern two-thirds of this four block site and Roosevelt City Park occupies the northern third. The school faces south towards 25th Street and sits approximately two hundred fifty feet from the street on a flat lawn with scattered evergreen trees. The building's initial phase of construction was in 1929-30 with subsequent significant additions/changes carried out in 1946 and 1968-70.

The plan for the building was intended to be U-shaped according to the architect's blueprints with north-south classroom wings intended to run perpendicular to the primary elevation. The 1930 and 1946 sections of the building are sited parallel to 25th Street and organized around the pedimented entrance pavilion that was part of the 1930 building campaign. The school, however, was constructed in phases with the entrance pavilion, east wing and its associated north-south wing constructed in 1930. That gave the classroom part of the building an L configuration. An auditorium, gymnasium, locker rooms, power plant, and special purpose classrooms, also constructed in 1930, produced an overall, rectangular footprint. In 1946 the classroom wing was added west of the entrance providing balance to the 25th Street elevation. A separate shop building was also constructed at that time. In the final phase of construction, 1968-71, a substantial addition was constructed east of the existing school and connected so as to form courtyards for light. That same building campaign encased the entire north side of the existing school and extended a wing northward that contained a band room, natatorium and new gymnasium. A connector to the separate shop building was also added at that time.

The school was constructed with a reinforced concrete foundation and steel superstructure. The outer walls are clad in red brick laid in Flemish bond with limestone accents. The building's historic wood, double hung, nine-over-nine windows were replaced circa 1970 with aluminum frame awning windows that fit the original openings. The roof of the entrance pavilion and the school's 25th Street elevation roof are gabled and clad in asphalt shingle. A tall, multi-stage lantern rises from a square brick base located on the main roof behind the entrance pavilion pediment. The roofs of the pavilions at the east and west ends of the main elevation are flat and surfaced in asphalt. Parts of the 1946 construction and the 1968-71 additions are also flat roofed.

In the original design the entrance pavilion received the greatest amount of stylistic enrichment in order to clearly distinguish it as the focus of the 25^ Street elevation. This gabled projecting section is treated as a temple front that is raised on a one-story podium. Four monumental Doric pilasters rise through the second and third floors of the pavilion to support the pedimented gable. The central bay of the pavilion, twice as wide as the end bays, on the ground floor is comprised of a limestone entrance feature with paired Doric columns that support a full entablature. Limestone quoins enrich the junction of the brick wall with the entrance. A flight of seven limestone steps provides access to the entrance whose original wood paneled doors and transom recessed behind the columns have been replaced by steel doors. The columned entry in turn supports a tall Venetian window motif that serves as a screen in front of a recessed three part window. The distance between the window and its Venetian screen reads as a balcony. The story-high base of the pavilion on which the four pilasters rest has bands of brickwork under each pilaster that simulate quoined comers. The pilasters themselves have limestone bases and capitals but brick shafts. They support an entablature of brick architrave/frieze and limestone cornice that defines the bottom of the pediment. Window openings occur on each floor of the pavilion. On the ground floor wide windows fill the space between the brickwork quoining. At the second floor, the windows rest on a limestone stringcourse that also supports the pilasters and wraps around the entire elevation. The second floor windows are crowned by stepped lintels that contain a swag motif in relief. The third floor windows have limestone sills and soldier arches with limestone keystones. The pediment contains an oval opening framed in limestone that is set between limestone festoons.

The three story wings extending east and west from the entrance pavilion have regular bays on each floor with an a-b-a grouping of windows in each bay. All window openings are topped by soldier arches. The wings are terminated by projecting end pavilions that rise the full three-story height of the building. The ground floors of these pavilions have simulated quoin treatment at the outer comers and inset semi-octagonal bays. Window openings in the bays are crowned by semicircular limestone panels that create the impression that the openings are arched. The rooflines of these bays are finished with limestone parapets that are accented by urns. On the upper two floors of the pavilions, window openings are flat arched with the exception of the middle third floor opening which also has a semicircular limestone panel.

Portions of the north elevation of the 1930 phase of construction are still visible, though attached to and partially surrounded by the 1968-71 additions. A four story, flat roof section corresponding in location to the entrance pavilion on the south elevation is five bays wide. Its vertical ranks of window openings are recessed slightly from the rest of the wall plane and all but the center bay are surmounted by blind arches. The center bay is narrower than all others giving a sense of symmetry to this part of the elevation. Window bays in the 1930 east wing are similarly recessed and surmounted by blind arches. The original window sash, as on the rest of the building, has been replaced with aluminum frame awning windows or, in some cases the openings have been infilled with red brick laid in Flemish bond.

The newest sections of the school, though simpler in massing and detail, are sheathed in red brick that is distinguishable from the brick in the older building but compatible. It is also laid in Flemish bond which provides continuity with the earlier parts of the building. Sections visible from 25th Street also continue the limestone string course above the ground floor. Windows, where they occur, are shallower in height than those in the earlier construction having four light (2 x 2) metal frames. The 1968-71 construction is connected to the earlier building using connector hallways at those locations where exterior doors were located. On the west elevation, a large limestone Roosevelt High School shield is set in bas relief. Other features, such as the unadorned limestone wall plane above a south-facing entrance on the 25th Street elevation indicate its more recent construction.

Interior

Throughout the 1930 and 1946 sections of the school the architect specified glazed ceramic building block and concrete block covered by plaster for the walls and terrazzo floor surfaces. Wood is used for doors, door surrounds, cabinetry, and decorative applications. Plastered ceilings in all rooms, unless otherwise noted, have been covered using acoustic tile.

The entrance foyer has served as the main entry to the school since 1930. Its wall surfaces are glazed ceramic tile and its focus is the terrazzo surfaced stair. Its east and west walls contain small decorative recessed blind windows molded of a pewter-like alloy and divided into twelve lights. The foyer's recessed ceiling is trimmed with gilded crown molding. Its original bronze and glass lantern hangs from the ceiling by a chain. Its floor is speckled mixed gray terrazzo. The central stainvell leads to the second floor while side or wing stairs lead down to the first floor. The stairs leading down to the first floor are half the width of the center stair and each has a round bronze hand rail attached to the outer wall. The same stair arrangement is repeated leading to the third floor landing with side stairs leading to a landing between the second and third floor levels and turning into the central staircase that accesses the third floor landing. The three part window that is framed by the Venetian window motif on the south elevation is centered in the wall of this landing.

The school's auditorium is accessed from entrances on the second floor on either side of a wood and glass trophy case. The auditorium rises from the second to the fourth story and is ornately finished. It has a large orchestra section and a balcony over the rear quarter of the room both retaining the original steel frame and molded plywood seating. The upper halves of the walls in the auditorium have been plastered and painted; the lower halves of the walls are tan glazed ceramic block. Four large windows are evenly spaced along the side (east and west) walls at the ceiling level. The ceiling is divided into twelve sections each with a centered gilded trimmed roundel framing a suspended brass light fixture. The proscenium fills the entire stage opening and has two small dressing rooms back stage to the north side. The school's heating plant is located in a large room below the stage while the student cafeteria/lunch room is located on the first floor beneath the auditorium. It has been entirely remodeled and retains none of its original features.

The school's original gymnasium is located in the northeast corner of the 1930 construction. It is three stories high with walls surfaced in glazed ceramic block and plaster. Its floor is surfaced in varnished, narrow width hardwood flooring. A suspended indoor track and visitor's gallery wraps the interior at the second story level. The gym can be accessed at both the first and second floor levels and is lit by four evenly spaced windows.

Halls and classrooms in the 1930 and 1946 sections of the school are finished in glazed ceramic building block and plastered or painted concrete block. On the first and second floors the block covers approximately two thirds of the wall height while on the third floor the block only covers the lower quarter of the wall These interiors also employ terrazzo floors and wood doors with transoms and door surrounds. Original plastered ceilings have been covered with acoustical tile. Classrooms are well lighted by natural light from the banks of windows in each room supplemented by fluorescent lighting. Interiors in the 1968-70 sections of the building are similarly treated although floors are surfaced in vinyl tile rather than terrazzo and unpainted red brick appears in place of glazed block and plastered walls in places.

Grounds

The school is sited in an eighteen acre open space approximately two hundred fifty feet north of 25th Street A park-like portion of the front lawn is characterized by mature trees, shrubbery, and concrete sidewalks that radiate from the entrance pavilion. A section of the site in front of the newest section of the school east of the entrance pavilion is paved for faculty parking. A World War II-Vietnam memorial to African American service men and women is located on the southwest comer of the site. The school's sports complex is located north of the building. Originally, the area between the school and the complex was also landscaped but has been paved for student and visitor parking. The concrete and brick grandstand seating was added as part of the 1968-71 phase of construction and today is known as the John B. Smith Athletic Complex or Leonard Douglas Stadium.