The first public showing of a video about the architecture of the 1938 Wellesley High School building attracted a near-full auditorium at Wellesley Free Library on Sunday despite the beautiful weather outside. For those who didn’t get a chance to attend, the documentary is available on DVD for $15.
I found the video interesting since it pointed out things about the building someone as oblivious to architecture as myself normally wouldn’t notice:
*Lamps on the outside walls designed to look like scrolls and auto lights.
*Lots of Ws — for Wellesley — embedded into outside walls and perhaps even on the tower where the metal eagle used to roost.
*Symbols (now rusting) on the outside of the building that signified sun, lightning and clouds — elements that the building would need to withstand over the years.
*WHS got its design, unusual for the time in that it wasn’t a Georgian-style building, in large part to accommodate its location on a hill.
*The tower on WHS appears to have been inspired by one in Stockholm, Sweden.
*Nothing seems to have been buried in the old high school’s cornerstone and nothing is being buried in the new high school’s cornerstone either, “keeping with tradition,” as Wellesley School Committee’s Suzy Littlefield said.
*There were two earlier Wellesley Highs, one that is now an apartment complex on Washington Street (Phillips Park) and one that stood where the middle school now stands.
Amusing comments from the audience included one 1949 grad’s recollection of how the WHS tower was discovered early on by students as a place to do unspecified things students weren’t supposed to be doing up there.
You can grab some memorabilia and artifacts from WHS on Saturday, Nov. 26 at a yard sale and silent auction at the school. Among items available will be this sign, originally a gift from the Class of 1990.
Historical pieces of the old high school not up for grabs will be showcased in the “1938 Room” to be situated off the library of the new school and that room will be dedicated in a public ceremony April 29. The new school itself will be dedicated on May 19 next year.