Tuesday, May 31, 2011

1951 Stockton Annex

 A 1946 report showed that the Stockton student population had remained steady at between 390 and 450 for 20 years,* but officials knew the baby boom was coming and plans were made for adding on to the school. One plan even suggested closing Greenwood Avenue from Grove Place to 19th Street to tie the school directly to The Oval playground (and possibly include a branch of the public library). In January 1951, the annex opened and housed kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade classrooms along with a library and an auditorium. The old auditorium had been on the 3rd floor of the 1905 building and was converted into a gymnasium. (the boys' and girls' gym(s) had been in the basement)

*Reports between 1905 and 1922 show Stockton having as many as 650 students enrolled at times.
The hexagonal shape of the classrooms was considered revolutionary at the time. Acting like a bay window, the shape of the room and the glass blocks above the windows brought in much more natural light and the room shape also allowed flexibility in the arrangement of desks, tables and other classroom furniture. The architect for the project was Emil A Schmidlin,* an East Orange resident;   Dr. Henry E Kentopp, superintendent of schools, coordinated the planning process. 

Above photo From Progressive Architecture February 1953

Mr. Emil Schmidlin (1907-1988), who supervised an architecture firm in East Orange, N.J., for more than 50 years, designed many of the first garden apartments and split-level homes in New Jersey, as well as schools and public and commercial buildings throughout the United States. The Swiss-born architect also designed several futuristic model homes, including a 1949 Pacesetter house in Orange, N.J., with a climate-control system and underground wiring to melt snow, and the Formica house for the 1964 New York World's Fair. (from his NY Times obituary)

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