Central High in 2002
Central High in March 2011
Central Visual and Performing Arts High School
Address: 3616 N. Garrison / 2900 Natural Bridge
Architect: William B. Ittner
This Tudor Gothic building, with its prominent twin towers, opened as James E. Yeatman High School, named for a prominent local banker and philathropist, involved in the founding of both the Mercantile Library and Bellefountaine Cemetery. The cornerstone was laid in 1902, and the school opened two years later. It received spillover from the increasingly crowded Central High School. After two decades as the north side's only high school, it was replaced by nearby Beaumont High School in 1926 - only to have the student body of Central High move in a year later, after the original Central High building was destroyed by the 1927 tornado.
Multiple additions over the years expanded the building into a massive complex, though the original building remains mostly unchanged. In 1984, Central High merged with another school to form the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. In 2004, the school relocated to a south side location.
Since then, the old Yeatman building has stood empty and unused. As of 2011, the building is unsecured, and serious vandalism and damage are starting to take a toll. The tower domes have been completely stripped of their copper by metal thieves, and vandals have smashed the limestone ballustrade railings and globes. Most alarmingly, dozens of windows have been lost, giving rainwater unfettered access to the interior. Some have lost their glass, while others have been stripped down to the frames.
The building remains under the ownership of the St. Louis Board of Education, which is offering it for sale through Hilliker Corp. Asking price: $250,000.
The current state of the building (March 2011) is alarmingly careless. There is no excuse for the windows not being properly boarded up - more than anything else, this simple act could do the most to secure the building against further deterioration.