Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bulldozing our past (yet again)

"Villa Park Grammar School," 1925
     As you know, we here at DtB love local history and the wonderful artifacts of our always fascinating, sometimes troubling past.
     Meanwhile, the general OC population gives not a shit about the past, or reminders of it in the form of buildings, homes, research, etc. For them, it seems, old is bad, new is good.
     When my family moved to the border of Orange and Villa Park back in 1961, I went to school at one of the oldest school structures in our county: Villa Park Elementary. (See "Mountain View School," 1881 (aka Villa Park Elementary) and Images from my childhood and A fine eucalyptus moment.) Even then (from age 6 to 8), I thought the old school was seriously special, a candle against the growing darkness of urban sprawl.
     According to the Villa Park Elementary Home and School League, the school features
     ...the oldest public buildings in the City of Villa Park. The larger building was built in 1919 and the smaller building in 1926. To meet the growing needs of the surrounding community, Villa Park Elementary expanded all around the historic buildings in the 1950's with many of the classrooms we still utilize today. In the early 1970s, the buildings were determined to be unsafe for students, due to seismic issues. At that time, the old school was used for storage and a few offices. Eventually, the building was completely vacated and left in its current dilapidated condition.
     The buildings are historically significant primarily because of their architectural design. The facade of the main building is described as “an elegant example of Beaux Arts Classicism [SEE], an eclectic style that began to appear in Southern California in the late 1890s.” In 2003 the Villa Park School was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
     Of course it was!
     Even as a youngster, I loved the fine oddness and oldness of the "historic" buildings of the little School in the orange groves. I’ve often returned to the spot over the years, feeling the past, my past. I do that, I do.
     But, natch, the historic buildings have long been under threat by the usual and numerous soulless, concrete-loving philistines. In yesterday’s OC Reg, one learns that those wonderful old buildings are finally coming down via bulldozer.
     This summer.
     What a drag.

Elizabeth Ross saved to California This is Villa Park Elementary School in 1913. Built in 1887, it was Mountain View Elementary on Santiago east of Lemon. In 1910 the name was changed to match the post office name. The pepper trees behind the faculty/students were donated by Frank Collins. (Pinterest)
OC Reg, June 6, 2017
VILLA PARK — Two classes at Villa Park Elementary School moved off-campus on Monday, June 5, after officials determined late last week that the campus suffered a rodent problem, returned Tuesday, June 6, to different classrooms.
. . .
     Vector Control found the cause to be rodent mites, attracted to rats lurking around several school buildings, she said. There have been 10 children and two teachers confirmed to have suffered bites.
     Coburn said the problem could have [my emphasis] been tied to dirty spaces beneath the bungalows, holes for rats to infiltrate through, and a tree brushing up against the roof of a building.
     Michael Christensen, the Orange Unified School District’s superintendent, said the likeliest reason for the rats’ appearance is the work on two vacant 1920s buildings in the heart of campus.
     The crumbling buildings are being prepared for demolition following parent demand earlier this year they be removed for safety reasons.
. . .
     The buildings at the heart of campus thought to be the origin of the rats are on schedule to be demolished over the summer. There will also be a full sweep of campus to clean out any other rat nests, Christensen said.
     Ridding the school of rat nests now could just prompt the mites to hunt for other hosts, such as the children. [My emphasis.]
     See also Villa Park Elementary Declared Clear Of Rat, Roach Infestation, CBS LA, June 6, 2017

The school in 1922
     The decision to tear down the buildings was made three months ago:

Greater Orange News Service, March 9, 2017
     The buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and are the oldest buildings in Villa Park. Villa Park Elementary sits on the site of the original Mountain View School that began in 1881. Mountain View was the original name of the area now the City of Villa Park. The current historic buildings date back to around 1919 and 1924.
. . .
     Numerous parents with students attending Villa Park Elementary have been gathering community support to demolish the fenced off historic buildings at the center of Villa Park Elementary School.
     The current parent-led efforts to demolish the two buildings come as the neglected buildings have in the parents view turned into a safety hazard.
     In 1999, Orange Unified agreed to let a community group called the Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corporation pursue fundraising plans to restore the buildings. The fundraising efforts failed.
     In 2006, OUSD began making plans to demolish the buildings. When completed in 2008, those plans were met with intense community resistance. Then Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell offered county matching funds of $100,000 towards saving the buildings. The district backed down from the plans to demolish the buildings and eventually offered to sell the historic buildings for $1. There were no takers.
     Restoration estimates in 2008 were $3.5 million.
     The estimated cost to demolish the two buildings in the March 9 Agenda is $250,000.
     Obviously, the city could restore these buildings, whereupon they would cease to be a “possible” hazard to the kids. And it’s a rich city—that is, lots of people with money live there.
     Lots of morons live there too. Remember  City Councilwoman Deborah Pauly?
Hater Pauly
...Speaking to a crowd of protesters outside an Islamic charity event held at a mosque in Yorba Linda, Pauly said, “I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists [my emphasis] to an early meeting in paradise,” and that what was happening inside the mosque was “pure, unadulterated evil.”....
1959—a couple of years before my time
1961-3 — that's when my sister Annie and I would have attended.
I see neither of us here. We both had Collins as teacher, I think.
I took these a few years ago
Rat factory? Don't think so.
Chainlinkedness precedes bulldozedness

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice pics.

Make me think of Hopkins:

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

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