School repurposing plans (and Switzer-West history)

Photo Courtesy Kansas City School District Repurposing website.

Photo Courtesy Kansas City School District Repurposing website.

A developer will update the community about its plans for reuse of the Switzer-West School site on Dec. 3.

Foutch Brothers, LLC will be hosting a meeting to update the neighborhood on Wednesday, Dec 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Tony Aguirre Community Center, 2050 W. Pennway Terrace.

Switzer School was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places this year. The nomination contains a lot of interesting history about the complex of buildings in the 1800-2000 blocks of Summit Street and Madison Avenue. The five buildings were constructed at different times, but are linked physically and historically.

According to the nomination, the original school on the site, known as Switzer North, was built in 1882 and served West Side children in fifth, sixth and seventh grades. It had a one-story wood frame annex built in 1885. The school was heated by two wood stoves. Switzer North was razed in 1939.

The remaining five buildings include:

  • Switzer (South) – a two-and-a-half story Italian Renaissance Revival Building constructed in 1899. The building had eight rooms. It was the first school in the district to have electricity. Because it had electric lights, the district was able to make a success of night school in the building, something that had not been possible in the past because of poor lighting and ventilation. The nomination credits Switzer for having “achieved many firsts in experimental social and education activities. It was the first school to serve as a community center, leading to increased educational awareness and the development of the district’s first Parent-Teacher Association.” The school also housed the district’s first stationary water basins in 1912 and was the site of the first girl’s club in any elementary school in the United States in connection with the YMCA.
  • West Side Junior High – constructed in 1925-6, is a classically-inspired building that offered community spaces, gymnasiums, a branch library and classrooms for specific areas of study.
  • Addition to Switzer School – built in 1939 using Public Works Administration funding. The addition replaced the outdated elementary school.
  • West Jr. High ­­– Industrial Arts Addition, reflects the Constructivist era of architecture. It was built in 1958 with a third story added in 1962.
  • Switzer School Primary Unit – a two-story steel-reinforced concrete building completed in 1958, as part of the school district’s $21 million building program.

 More information about the repurposing of the Switzer site

One Comment

  1. Valori Mcgaughy says:

    I attended this school in the 1960’S. I went from Switzer to West J r. Hi high. My 2 favorite teach ers were Mr. Bahgot and Miss Forbes. I loved living there in the projects. It was my favorite time growing up. Save this building. Valori Mcgaughy – Sappington (Valorie) is there anyway to get school records?

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