by Sheri Boggs
In 1912, the intersection of 4th and Stevens was lined with diminutive maple trees and the occasional Model T Ford. The trees are now enormous, verdant and healthy; in a few weeks the streets will be skirted by more makes and models of cars than Henry Ford himself could have imagined.
The first students of Lewis and Clark High School were dressed in long skirts, homespun trousers and carefully pressed shirts, where now, kids in shorts and T-shirts pulled fresh from the dryer walk down the streets, eager for a glance at the newly remodeled school. The school's cream-and-brick exterior itself, thanks to a diluted acid wash, looks almost exactly as it did the day it opened in 1912.
The inside, however, brings together the best of LC's nine decades with an infusion of early 21st-century elements in terms of design, technology and equipment. The public will get to see the new/old school this weekend, when Lewis and Clark reopens with a gala event that mirrors the high school's original grand opening 89 years ago, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony and even a rare visit from Teddy Roosevelt.
"We had an excellent resource in Nancy Compau at the Spokane Public Library in planning this," explains Terren Roloff, community relations director for District 81. "The first opening was very well documented in The Spokesman Review and The Spokane Chronicle, and what we're planning for our grand opening is based on her information."
While former president Teddy Roosevelt was not in town for the official opening ceremonies in April, 1912, he did make a brief visit in 1911. It was then that he laid the cornerstone for the yet-to-be-built high school. That ceremony will be re-enacted on Sunday, with one small difference.
"The original stone was never engraved, but this time, we're unveiling an engraved cornerstone, with the date of the first dedication in 1911 and the rededication of 2001," says Roloff.
In keeping with the original stone-laying, Clayton Harrington, a local administrative law judge will participate in the guise of our 26th president in the official dedication ceremony, as well as producing some "speechifying" later in the day during a series of presentations in the auditorium.
"When you look at what was going on in Roosevelt's life when he came through town, it's actually a pretty significant time," says Harrington. "He was soon to be going on to the Republican convention, where he was getting ready to run for re-election. Of course, he was bumped, and that's when he started the Bull Moose Party."
Harrington says his remarks at the dedication, in keeping with Roosevelt's few words during his short visit, will be brief, but that his auditorium presentations will offer a bit more oratorical meat.
"I'll have a five- to 10-minute extemporaneous spiel three times, one every hour between 12 and three in the afternoon," says Harrington, who started portraying Teddy Roosevelt at Roosevelt Elementary when his kids went to school there and one of the teachers commented on his striking resemblance to the extroverted, blustery president. "I'll mostly be talking about what was going on in my [his] life at the time, during 1912."
The rest of the weekend offers a concert with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra featuring guest artist Dee Daniels, a preview of a KSPS documentary on LC's history (a shorter version of which can be purchased during the opening festivities), a picnic on the lawn that calls to mind a similar picnic from the 1912 ceremony and a show of classic cars representing the heyday of youthful car ownership by many generations of LC students.
Visitors can also view the school's impressive art collection, much of which was purchased for the school by early graduating classes, beginning with the impressive life-sized portraits of Lewis and Clark given by the school's first crop of graduates.
"There are 200 pieces, and about 130-140 will be displayed at any one time," says Ned Hammond, District 81 director of capital projects and planning. "They'll kind of rotate them. One of the art department heads that has since retired is doing the job of cataloging and putting all these up."
The collection includes some beautiful landscapes of Venice, a series of Arthurian panels as well as reproductions of Rembrandt, da Vinci, Botticelli, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, James Whistler and Titian. There are also impressive engravings of such architectural subjects as Notre Dame, the Houses of Parliament and the Parthenon, and a number of sculptures and friezes throughout.
Most important, perhaps, it will be a chance for the returning students and the community at large to see the newly revitalized school.
"The last two years at the Holley-Mason Building have been a great opportunity for us," says LC Principal Mike Howson. "It gave us a chance to establish some new student traditions and activities, and it was good for us to be a part of the downtown business sector. But we're excited to be back. It's been tremendously important for us to maintain the visible tradition of Lewis and Clark. The way I look at it is that we kept all of what's good about the old school and remodeled the new building around it." F
The Reopening of Lewis and Clark High is
Aug. 24-26, beginning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5 pm on Friday, followed by self-guided tours, a light show and a ticketed Auditorium Reopening concert with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra and LC band and choir at 7:30. Tickets for the concert are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Saturday begins with tours of the school and a classic car show from 1-4 pm, followed by a Friends of LC and Auditorium Reopening from 5-9 pm, which is free and open to the public. Sunday begins with the cornerstone-laying ceremony at 11 am, followed by a community picnic and repeated auditorium shows from noon-3 pm. The final rededication ceremony is at 3 pm Sunday in the Hunter Field House with Congressman George Nethercutt. Call: 354-7000.