Digital Commonwealth

Lawrence High School Classes

Lawrence Public Library

In 1847, the first 17 high school students were taught on the first floor of the Oliver School. The first high school building was built in 1867. By the 1890s, the School Committee was considering a new building for the high school. 310 students were housed in a building meant for 200. In 1896, they were looking for an enrollment the next year of 475. In 1898, land owned by the Barbour family, Ellen J. McCarthy, Mary A. Roberts, Lucy H. Stowe, and the Father Mathew Total Abstinence Society was seized by eminent domain. The corner stone was laid June 17, 1899 along with a box sealed in the stone containing documents pertaining to the city and the school. The new school was located at the corner of Lawrence and Haverhill Streets and was considered the last word in high school design. John Ashton, the architect of the Tarbox School, was chosen to design the school. It was built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The third floor library boasted a stained glass window donated by the Lawrence Women’s Club in honor of Emily Wetherbee, a Lawrence High School graduate and (later) teacher. An extension that followed Haverhill Street to the west was built with John E. Allen as architect; it was occupied in 1924 and named the James D. Horne Annex after the high school’s headmaster from 1894 to 1923. The annex style maintained a similar style and used the same yellow bricks. The dome, originally housing an observatory, blew off during a powerful windstorm in 1973. A new addition was added to the back of the building in 1982. The addition included a gym, auditorium, and cafeteria. There were also major renovations to the rest of the building that same year.

The City started planning for a new high school building as early as the 1980s. Plans were made, and Flansburgh Associates were hired to design the building situated in South Lawrence next to Veterans Memorial Stadium. The cost of the new school is reported to be $110 million. The new building will include six stand-alone schools: Business Management & Finance, Health & Human Services, Humanities & Leadership Development, International, Math, Science & Technology, and Performing & Fine Arts. There will also be an auditorium, a field house, a media center, a food court, a community health center, a day-care center, and athletic fields.

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