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The ground floor has entrances on each of the four sides, leading to spacious corridors, which cross at right angles in the centre of the building,—the intersection being arranged in the form of an octagon, with arches on each side, producing an imposing effect. On this floor are four large class rooms, each 36 feet by 28 feet, well arranged with reference to the position of teacher, and the doors so located that the scholars face any one who enters. Contiguous to each class room is a commodious cloak room, accessible both to the corridors and class rooms. One of the most noticeable and admirably disposed features of the building is the staircases. There are two of these, forming a flank to each side of the building. They extend from the basement to the lecture hall, on third floor, and terminate in two beautiful towers, which add materially to the external effect of the building. These staircases are wide, of very easy ascent, and, in their form of construction, with the arching overhead, present a really noble appearance.
But this is their least merit; located as they are, they afford an entrance on each side to the grand lecture hall, and, although contiguous to the latter, do not mar its beauty or comfort by breaking up any portion of its space. Another invaluable result from this treatment, is security in case of fire. Two large staircases so situated, widely apart from each other, and, although attached to, practically isolated from the main body of the
building, present the best safeguard, and render impossible the terrible calamities which have more than once resulted in our schools from the neglect of this precaution.
The second floor is identical in its arrangement with the first.
The third floor is exclusively devoted to the lecture hall, the staircases which flank and give access to it, and two ante-rooms, one on each side, accessible both from stairs and lecture hall. This lecture hall is, without exception, the grandest room of the kind which has yet been seen in this part of the world. Its entire dimensions are 83 feet by 68 feet, irrespective of the galleries, which are ingeniously arranged over the ante-rooms, and in the space gained between the ceiling of tho ante-rooms and that of the lecture hall, the height of the latter being 25 feet. The effect of these arched galleries at the end of the room is very fine. At one end of the room is a raised platform, occupying in length the entire width of tho room, and in the centre of this end of the hall is a wide and lofty arched recess. The appearance of the hall, with its windows of rich Gothic tracery, the arched galleries, the ceiling formed of oak leaves crossing each other with handsome rosettes at their intersection, and deep-sunk panels of a dark blue color, the
rich wainscotting of the walls, and handsomely devised doorways, present altogether an appearance of unusual beauty. The artistic peculiarities of the Tudor style of Gothic have been faithfully carried into the minutest features of this structure, both internally and externally; and the total absence of any admixture of other styles produces that charming effect of harmony and unity which is the prevailing characteristic of this building.
The enclosure of the area, on the Franklin street or main front, is formed of a rich iron railing, of Gothic design, resting upon a bold plinth of Dayton stone. The piers which flank the enclosure at each end, and the central gate piers, are also of Dayton stone, of beautiful design, and richly carved and ornamented.
The cost of the building was very near $44,000, including four furnaces for warming, gas fixtures, &o.
The entire cost of the structure, including fence, walls, railing, grading, &c., was $53,000. It was designed and superintended by J. R. Hamilton, architect, and erected by Daniel Lavery, contractor, under the foremanship of John TayLOR,—all of Cincinnati.
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE PLANS AND CONSTRUCTION OF PUBLIC
School-HOUSES IN PHILADELPHIA.
LETTER FROJ EDWARD SHIPPEN, ESQ, PRESIDENT OF THE COARD OF
CONTROLLERS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The large, older, and closely built cities of the United States suffer in comparison with their junior sisters in regard to their facilities for the placing of Schooledifices. In the new cities there is ample opportunity of obtaining space at moderate cost, and in convenient localities--not so lowever with the old. Schoolhouses slould be fixed at centres of detined school-districts. In the old cities, this is impracticable, as in Philadelphia for instance, at least in the city proper. Consequently there has been built comparatively few School edifices for the public in the last ten years. At length it became essential, in order to supply the demand, that buildings of all conceivable plan, kind, and description, from the rope walk to the stable, from factory to the private residence, should be used for School purposes. The School Controllers eventually took a determined stand, and claimed at the hands of the City Councils that the children of their constituency had a right to be lodged six hours a day in healthy and convenient School-houses, that they had a right to the pure air and sunlight which Providence accords to all mankind free of cost, and that if the mind was worthy of cultivation and preservation, the body was equally so. The Controllers claimed that one million of dollars was needed for building purposes alone, and that so much more was required as would command lots for the new edifices. The claim was heeded, the million dollars accorded, and several hundred thousand dollars more expended in the purchase of lots, in most cases not large enough, but as large as could be had, sare at exorbitant cost.
Thus armed and equipped, the Controllers determined that the new Schools should be erected upon the most approved modern models; that they should embrace all points of utility, and should avoid all those which bad been tried and had failed. To accomplish this desirable end, their Committee closely examined the edifices of Boston, Providence, Worcester, Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Columbus, and other cities. In these examinations, much attention was given to details, and it may be fairly presumed that all the modern improve. ments and appliances have been studied, adopted, or rejected, and that the new structures will have much to commend them to those who seek information upon the subject of School Architecture.
The Report of the Philadelphia School Board of 1867 gives seventeen well executed wood-cuts of elevations and plans now in process of erection. It was wisely decided that among other points should be attentively regarded the following features:
Proper economy, not parsimony.
That while the School-house should present to the public eye a neat architectural design, all useless ornamentation, internal and external, should be avoided, and most of all that the “confectionery” as well as the millinery of architecture should be dispensed with as useless. costly, and out of taste.