March 2007 - the back side of the building shows a huge gap where the roof has collapsed.
March 2007 - the same view shows the progressive collapse of the center roof.
March 2007 - the hungry hole devours one of the attic dormer windows. The top of the brick wall is coming apart as well. The left-hand dormer will not be far behind.
Circa 2001, showing the roofline before the damage had spread to the front.
Amid the vacant fields, light industrial sites, public housing, and public parkland of the Carr Square neighborhood, one of the city's handsome old school houses has been rotting away for many years.
The Carr School stands at the corner of Carr and 15th Streets, just north of downtown. Built in 1908, it is one of many fine school buildings designed by architect William B. Ittner in the early years of the century. This one was noted for its kindergarten space, nestled in the center of the building between its two projecting wings. The two end walls feature colorful, stylized mosaics of students at work and play, and the rest of the building is trimmed out with polychrome brick and tile.
The school closed in 1983. It is now owned by the Carr Square Tenants' Association, who would have long desired to renovate it as housing for the elderly, but have never managed to pull the project together.
The Carr School was already rotting when I first encountered it in 1996; today the building is in a catastrophic state of disrepair. Substantial portions of the roof are missing, and the floors beneath them are mostly likely rotted away. The surviving roof is in poor condition, introducing all the typical correlary damage: rotting dormers, broken glass, missing roof overhangs.
Weeds fill the asphalt playlot.
For almost a decade, the building has been a consistent entry on the Landmark Association's yearly list of the 11 most endangered buildings in the city.
The Carr Square area is not in prime condition; however, it is not exactly dead,
either. A park across the street is frequently filled with people. It seems reasonable that the old school, so close to downtown, could still find new life -- as apartments or condominiums, as a community center, or even as a school.
But every month and year that passes increases the damage and the potential costs of a renovation. With the roof standing open to the elements, the interior is certainly obliterated. Irreparable structural damage cannot be far behind. Already there is little to stop the rear center wall from collapsing in a strong wind, as happened at the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. Unchecked, the gaping void in the center roof will continue expanding, swallowing the brackets and overhangs of the front wall, and continuing outward along the wings.
As of 2007, a renovation would likely be at least a partial gut rehab, saving little beyond the brick walls in the center bays. But with their multi-hued decorative tile and mosaics, even that would be a worthwhile endeavor.
More on the Carr School at
Ecology of Absence.