Monday, October 21, 2013

Old postcard of Altoona High School mailed in 1906

This postcard is dated June 1, 1906, and includes a short message on the front: "Will write a letter to-morrow." It was mailed to Mattapan, a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, and it moved through the postal system pretty quickly. It was postmarked in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on at 2:30 p.m. on June 1 and postmarked as received in Boston — nearly 500 miles away — at 2 p.m. on June 2! Nice service.

Pictured is an earlier version of Altoona High School. This same card is featured in Altoona, a postcard book by David W. Seidel, which has the following caption:

"The second Altoona High School, constructed in 1905 in the neoclassical style, was characterized by Hummelstown Brownstone, colossal portico, and glass dome with Ionic columns. The central interior vault under the dome also had open spheres between floors under the dome. This structure was demolished in 1974 for a new high school, over the pleas of preservationists."

The fact that the preservationists failed to save the building is more interesting, given that the 1905 school was one of the early designs by famous American architect Charles M. Robinson, who later moved to Virginia and designed numerous college and public-school buildings that have made it onto the National Register of Historic Places. (For more on him, check out Charles M. Robinson's Schoolhouses in Northern Virginia.)

Isn't it a shame that this majestic building only stood for 69 years and can't be seen today?

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