Three historic and architecturally significant schools in the Highland Park Independent School District are up for proposed replacement as part of this fall’s bond election. The two cities of Highland Park and University Park do not have an established mechanism for protecting historic architecture. As a result, these three schools have been deemed inadequate to meet the needs of the growing school-aged population of the Park Cities. Designed by Lang & Witchell, the 1925 Bradfield Elementary School and the 1928 University Park Elementary School feature identical plans, designed in the Spanish Revival style with added Rococo detailing. The tan, scratch-faced brick facades have monumental main entrances, decorated in typical Rococo Revival detailing, with elaborate curves, scrolls, shells, and shields adorned with fleurs-de-lis. Hyer Elementary School, which opened in 1949, is an excellent example of Mark Lemmon’s historicist architecture and is styled in the Georgian Revival aesthetic. The main entrance features a classically-inspired pediment, supported by original cast iron columns with lace detailing. The facades feature decorative hexagonal windows and nine-over-nine double-hung windows with prominent central keystones in the decorative brick headers. Preservation Dallas representatives have met with the HPISD administration to stress the importance of these historic schools. We encourage the administration to thoroughly explore the incorporation of these structures into new designs that will both meet the capacity needs of the district, while also honoring the 100-year legacy of the HPISD. There are many options which would both value the original buildings of these three historically-significant schools, designed by prominent Dallas architects, while at the same time providing HPISD with the needed additional capacity. Options include the targeted demolition of ancillary additions and the rehabilitation of the original core structures, while adding on multi-level spaces to accommodate new, 21st-century educational programs. A blend of old and new buildings would celebrate the importance of physical examples of civic history when educating young, elementary-aged children.
UPDATE: University Park Elementary was demolished in the summer of 2017, Bradfield Elementary was demolished in the summer of 2018, and Hyer Elementary was demolished in the summer of 2109. All three schools are being replaced with much larger schools out of scale and character for the surrounding neighborhoods where they are located.