James Monroe School

James Monroe School
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Banking off yesterday’s post, with the photo of me in my second-grade classroom, I thought I’d share this photo of the school building itself, on the south side of South Bend, Indiana. The building was built in stages, the first of which was erected in 1930 and was funded by the Studebaker family. This is the original main entrance in the 1930 part of the building.

Additions in 1946 and 1959 brought the building to its footprint at the time I attended (1972-79). A 2010 renovation and expansion added a great deal of space and relocated the main entrance.


15 responses to “single frame: James Monroe School”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    I have always been jealous of people who got to attend school in a building like this. My elementary school was the opposite – brand new in 1965. I was there on the day it opened. Funny, my old school is now about as old as yours was when you started school.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Older. My school was built in 1930 and I started in 1972!

  2. DougD Avatar

    Yeah, I was thinking that too. Every school I went to was built in the early 60s
    Even the University I went to had one nice building, then a bunch of 1970’s concrete blocks.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My hometown has several older school buildings still in service. It’s lovely really.

      1. DougD Avatar

        Peter Egan wrote in one of his road trip stories “The line is drawn between pre-war and post-war architecture. Back then we cared, now we don’t”

  3. TBM3FAN Avatar

    I recall my Catholic school back in 1958-62 was a old two story brick building located in Bogota New Jersey. My two story brick school, in Catonsvile MD, was a newer build. Once in California everything tended to be one story shaped like a shoe box. Efficient, easy to build, but boring.

    However, SDSU, had an older core campus built by the WPA. Then there was UC Berkeley with South Hall from 1873 and then Hearst Mining, Doe, Wheeler Hall, California Hall. Le Conte, Sather Tower (Campanile), and another dozen were done in the Beaux Arts style between 1899-1924.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wish more places were built with style rather than with ease and low cost.

  4. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Most of my schooling was in ’50s-’60s one story buildings, but our district did use the old HS, a brick 3 story 1920s building for all the 6th grade classes. Unfortunately I was there the last year it was open, so maintenance had been a little thin for a few years. One weekend, most of the plaster fell off the ceiling in one classroom. The solution was just move that teacher up to one of the empty rooms on the 3rd floor.
    It was an interesting experience, but I did spend part of that spring with a broken foot, and all those stairs on crutches got old fast.

    Fortunately after an empty decade, the building was nicely restored as Senior Citizen apartments.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The old Central High School in my hometown is apartments now, too. That seems to be a trend for unused school buildings.

  5. moparlee Avatar

    My old high school just celebrated its 125th anniversary, and as you may imagine, it is made of a truly classical architectural work. For the most part, the insides have been maintain as well, with tasteful improvements over the years. However my university was a product of the 60s and was never a beautiful sight to behold.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You are fortunate to have attended a high school where the building was well cared for!

  6. Mark Avatar

    Was a student here from 1997-ish through 2006 before aging out and switching to Marshall. Kids at the time referred to it as “Hogwarts” due to the new Harry Potter movie released at the time. Lots of good memories here. The building was to my understanding a historical landmark and could not be changed or altered from its existing structure (pre 2009). I hate the new appearance of it and how they trashed the big expansive playground and sports courts. It looks so ugly and sad now. Even with that 1970s cafeteria addition and L-shaped wing it at least still blended in.

    There is a secret alleyway between two houses that opens up into someone’s driveway at the back corner of the school that is still there, I always took that way into the school in later grades when I had to walk there. I also remember one time a deer ended up in the school yard and smashed through the doors and got stuck in the cafeteria. There was blood all over the place the janitor was cleaning up.

    I also remember there was videos on YouTube in the 2010’s of skateboarders grinding down the cafeteria exit railing but they seem to have been lost to time.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Fascinating perspective on the changes. My perspective is that I’m happy the building was invested in, and not demolished. Demolition would have been an even bigger shame.

      Here’s a post I wrote with a 1939 photo of Monroe’s front yard, filled with children. Fellows St. ran north to Donmoyer and stopped in those days, and several blocks of houses (including the one I grew up in) hadn’t been built yet.



    I went looking online to learn about this school, because my son will be 5 and this is the school he will be going to. And I come across all your stories about the school, then the neighborhood and area and just can’t stop reading it. I am young, and a military brat, so never lived in one place longer then 2 yrs. I now live just south of the school off of Whitcomb and Chippewa. I wish I could find more stories and pictures of what the area looked like in the 60s and 70s. I will be happy to send you updated pictures of the interior of it, when my son starts this yr. So you can continue to write and keep future minds/readers and parents entertained and at all over the years of changes. And just a question..where is this “rabbit Hill” neighborhood located. Lol love the stores just don’t know the area. Ty and please continue

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hi Justin – I had a terrific experience at Monroe, but that was 50 years ago now. I hope your son has the same great experience I had.

      Rabbit Hill was just the nickname 1970s parents gave to the neighborhood. It’s actually called Miami Hills. Go east on Donmoyer to High Street. Turn right (south) on High Street. There’s an odd three-street intersection maybe a quarter mile in, where High meets Ridgedale Rd. and Woldhaven Dr. – that’s where Miami Hills begins. There are a handful of streets in the neighborhood beyond those two streets. Others include Dover Dr., Lancaster Dr., Chippewa Ave., Amhurst Ave., and Golfview Ln.

      You can also enter it off Miami St. – go down Donmoyer to Miami, right on Miami, past Ridgedale Rd., and then take the next left which puts you at a fork where you can go down either Chippewa or Lancaster.

      In 1976 my family left Miami Hills for a house 1 block from Monroe, on Erskine Blvd.

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