Sometime during 2012, the old Ravenna High School will likely be torn down if plans proceed as they are currently laid out. The building has been vacant since mid 2010 after it was replaced by a new, $26 million building on North Chestnut Street. Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Why write about the old school building of Kent's biggest rival? As much as I enjoy the sports rivalry between Roosevelt and Ravenna, as a historian and fan or architecture, I can also appreciate the history and character that the old Ravenna High School has, especially the original portion of the building, which opened in 1923.
|Front of the original portion of "old" Ravenna High School, which opened in 1923. I took this picture in 2009|
|Ticket booth at the entrance to the auditorium wing from Clinton Street|
|Ceiling above the entrance to the auditorium wing facing Clinton Street|
|Ravenna High School ca. 1923 when it was new. The entrance visible on the right faces East Main and was covered up by the addition of Whittaker Hall in the late 1960s|
|Old Ravenna High School auditorium as seen from the stage. Yeah, NO WAY there were EVER 1,000 seats there! I would love to see an interior picture of this when it was new.|
|Davey Auditorium in 2009 as seen from the stage|
The original gyms in each building were also very similar, with Ravenna's simply a smaller version, but with a balcony that went completely around the gym where Davey's went around three sides but was much deeper. Ravenna's "balcony" today looks more like a walking track (which is what is was mainly used for most recently), but old pictures show people sitting there for basketball games. The estimate is about 200 people could fit in the gym for games, though in those days the basketball courts were smaller. The Davey gym seated an estimated 300 people. They gyms were similar enough that I mistakenly thought a picture of a basketball game was taken in the old gym at Davey and was actually at Ravenna. The fact that it was in a Roosevelt yearbook AND a large banner that said "ROOSEVELT" was hanging off the balcony threw me off too, but sure enough, it was Ravenna's gym when I compared pictures I had of both.
|Can you see why I thought this was the gym at what is now Davey? This is from the 1955 Roosevelt yearbook|
|Interior of the original gym at old Ravenna High in 2010 showing that yes, the picture above was taken in THIS room, not in Kent!|
One cool feature of the original part of Ravenna High School is the skylights that line the hallway on the top floor. They can be seen in the aerial picture above. The idea was to have as much natural light as possible, so there were small class panels put in the floors to let that natural light flow down to the lower levels. For the last few decades the skylights themselves have been covered up by the ceiling tiles in the school, a later modification used to bring heat costs down. Unfortunately, the windows weren't exactly economical in terms of heating, so rather than modify them, they were just covered. When I toured the building in 2010, some of the ceiling tiles were missing, so I could see the skylights. I'm a big proponent of natural lighting (I HATE rooms that have no windows for no purpose!), so I thought that was a very cool feature.
There were two large additions to old Ravenna High, the first being the Coll Annex in 1958-59 and the other being Whittaker Hall in the late 1960s. The Coll Annex was built north of the original building and housed a larger gym (which opened the same year that the original part of the current Roosevelt building did) and other classrooms like the band and choir rooms. It is connected to the original building by way of a bridge on the top floor. Whittaker Hall was a two-story addition of classrooms on the south side of the building and covered up the entrance to the original building for East Main (which is actually the school's address even though the main entrance faces Clinton Street).