Save Chester's historic gem from the wrecking ball

29 Jan 2020 | 04:35

To the Editor:

The 1935 Maple Avenue School, planned for demolition should the February 25th referendum proposing a multi-purpose athletic complex on the site pass, will meet a tragic end that will demonstrate that the district is oblivious to the importance and value of historic structures to our community.

The historically significant Art Deco building, with its yellow brick facade, stone coped parapets, linear bands of windows, decorative cast stone detail, and clock tower, was built in 1935 with the aid of federal Public Works Administration funds.

Its flat roof and monolithic appearance embodies the Art Deco style; the ornamental low-relief designs and decorative geometric elements are limited to the most visible parts of the building; embellished tower like constructs accentuate the corners; the offset, wonderful clocktower crowned with metal cupola counters the asymmetrical entrance; quoins on either side of the doorway are asymmetrical but visually balanced. The main entrance has illumination from the original Art Deco fixture.

The school is National Register-eligible. It is a local landmark. Demolition is forever. The school district does not need it for instructional space any longer but there are many creative reuses to utilize this historic structure.

I requested, received and studied the 2015 Building Condition Survey from the school district. Nothing indicates that the building is anything but solid. Repairs, though costly, would be half of what is proposed.

There is vacant land in the town the school district could utilize for sports.

I desperately hope that we value this historic gem enough to save it from the wrecking ball.

Leslie Smith