Historic Properties: First Everett High School Steeped in Local Educational History

(The following is an occasional feature in the Independent based on the City’s 2018 Historic Property Survey done to note the many little-known historically significant properties within the city.)

Architectural Description:

The former Everett High School building is a notable example of Queen Anne-style architecture, originally constructed in 1892 and doubled in size by a nearly identical addition to the west in 1905. A major fire in 1982 destroyed the roof and the interior but the exterior has been carefully renovated to its former glory. The large brick building has decorative details in terra cotta and brownstone including a brownstone beltcourse, brick band, and classically-inspired moldings including bead and reel and egg and dart. It is capped by a high hip roof sheathed in slate with six massive, paneled brick chimneys. What is basically a rectangular plan is enlivened by two hip roofed projections on the façade which are connected by a single-story, triple arched entrance portico. The two front projections as well as the ends of the building are capped by stepped gable wall dormers that break through the cornice. Decorative finials top the dormers as well as the other roof peaks and intersections. The variety of windows include double-hung 1/1 units with transoms and flat arch brick lintels and stone sills used individually, in pairs and most often, in sets of three. The entrance on the west end is set in a Richardsonian arch with a pedimented door surround with dentil details. Above this there is a set of three diamond-paned windows above which is a brownstone balcony lacking a balustrade but supported by massive decorative consoles adorned with classical motifs including dentils, wreaths with ribbons, and spools.

The building is set back slightly from the Summer Street sidewalk with a curving driveway in front of the entrance. There is a small planted area in front of the building with lawn and evergreens. Mortared stone walls flank the driveways on either end of building that extend down to the lower level parking lot behind the building. In the 1920s an addition was constructed to the southwest of the school but this is no longer extant.

Historical Narrative

This building, the first purpose-built high school erected in Everett, was constructed in 1893 and nearly doubled in size with an addition in 1905. After the town of Everett separated from Malden in 1870 a high school first operated in the Old Center School house, moving to the third floor of the Masonic Building in 1872 and from there to the Locust Street schoolhouse in 1875 where it remained until 1881. In 1882 it moved to the Church Street schoolhouse until the new building was constructed on Summer Street. From 1882 to 1892 the number of students in the high school increased from 20 to 92, necessitating the construction of a separate building. In March 1892 an appropriation of $6,500 was made for the purchase of a lot. Loring & Phipps were retained to prepare plans which were submitted to the town in May 1892. Ground was broken in August 1892 and the building was dedicated on September 30, 1893. The school was opened to 175 students on Monday, October 2, 1892. The new building had a capacity of 550 students. The contractors were Fessenden & Libby.

The 1893 School Committee Report provides a detailed description of the new building:

The building is of brick laid in red mortar, with light sandstone trimmings. It is ninety three feet six inches wide and with its front and rear projections has a floor space of seven thousand, three hundred and twelve feet. The following cuts show clearly the arrangement of the rooms on the various floors and especially the system of heating and ventilating. From a fan located in the basement a large supply of fresh air, partially heated, is driven to all rooms. By use of a coil pipe in each flue it is given the required temperature before it enters the room.

The classrooms have an abundance of light from the left and the rear; the corridors are well lighted and present a very attractive appearance with their open dressing rooms. The stairs are iron with rubber tread. The interior finish is ash with hard pine floors. The third floor is devoted to science. A lecture room with seating capacity of eighty, is connected on one side to a chemical laboratory and on the other side to a physical laboratory. Here are also the light and dark rooms, and the observatory is reached by 52 steps from this floor. This is covered with a revolving copper dome, built by M.M. Lowe Company of Boston and contains the latest in dome construction.

In 1905 the capacity of the high school was nearly doubled by the construction of an addition on the west end of the original building. The addition included a manual training room in the basement, chemical and laboratories on the third floor, a lunch room, typewriting room and library as well as classrooms. The total number of new rooms was 28, including those remodeled in the original building, making a total of 30 rooms with a seating capacity of 640. The addition also included the remodeling of the assembly hall with a new stage. Loring & Phipps again served as architects for the addition. The architects also designed a single-story addition for manual training purposes in 1912.

By 1920 the high school was over-crowded and planning began for a new building. The new Everett High School was opened at 548 Broadway in 1922 and the old high school building on Summer Street served as the Junior High School until 1932. A wing was constructed (or expanded) to the west in 1924 or 1927 to house the manual training shops and a gymnasium. It was designed by the F.I. Cooper Corporation. This building is no longer extant.

When the Junior High moved to the expanded Parlin School at 587 Broadway in 1932, the Summer Street building became the Fairfield Whitney School. It was named after long-time Superintendent of Schools, Fairfield Whitney (1862-1944) who resigned in 1932 after 22 years of service. The building was used as a Trade School. In 1942 it changed its curriculum and was renamed Everett Vocational High School. It continued to serve that purpose until the late 1970s. In 1982 the vacant building was damaged by a major fire that destroyed the upper floors and most of the interior. The property was subsequently conveyed by the City of Everett to Whitney House Associates who rehabilitated the building for 50 units of affordable housing. It is now known as Whitney Lorenti House.

The original building was designed by the Boston firm of Loring & Phipps (George F. Loring and Sanford Phipps). George F. Loring (1851-1918) was a resident of Somerville and established a partnership with Sanford Phipps (1850-1921) in 1884. The firm designed the Masonic Temple in Boston as well as the Somerville Public Library and Masonic Building, various churches, libraries, and schools. Among their other works in Everett were the Central Fire Station and the chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery (1910).

The former Everett High School appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register on the local level under Criterion A, Education, and Criterion C, Architecture. This building, the first purpose-built high school erected in Everett, was constructed in 1893 and nearly doubled in size with an addition in 1905. It continued to educate Everett’s children, at different levels, into the 1970s. The building is also eligible architecturally as a notable example of Queen Anne style architecture. Both the original building and 1905 addition were designed by Boston architects Loring & Phipps who also designed Everett’s Central Fire Station and the Chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery. Although a 1982 fire destroyed the roof of the former school and the interior, it appears to retain sufficient integrity for listing on the National Register. The period of significance spans from 1893 to 1968, based on National Register guidelines for a 50 year cut-off for historic significance.

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