A Brief History By Betty Hatfield Duckworth Charlotte HELSTERN Paughy
As the traction went out West Third St. to the Soldier’s Home (now know as the Veteran’s Administration) in 1921, stakes could be seen on the north side of Third St. between the streets of Ardmore and Mathison. A new school was to be built, a high school named after “Teddy Roosevelt former U.S. President. It was to be the first of its kind – a combination of academic studies coupled with vocational emphasis. Two excerpts from the first year book “The Rooseveltian, 1924” alludes to the very special planning and effort to bring about this extraordinary and unique edifice. Supt. Of Schools, Paul C. Stetson, “You are going into the most modern and complete high school plant in Dayton and one of the most up-to-date in the United States. There will be no high schools better housed than Roosevelt High School and there will be very few as well taken care of.” Principle, G.A. Morris stated, “The student body and faculty are united in their ambition to render ‘for value received’ to the people of Dayton for all money invested in its building and equipment. We pledge allegiance to our wonderful city for the magnificent building in which we are permitted to work. We hope to render service to others as generous as others have rendered service to us.” Construction soon began, and by September, 1923, the doors were opened to over 2000 students. They were all eager to meet the staff. (Many of that staff we remember.) the principal was G.A. Morris, Nettie Lee Roth was the Ass’t. Principal of the Junior High. (Roosevelt was for grades 7 through 12.) Bertha M. Johns, Evangeline Lindsley, Ruth McClure, Effie McKee, E.C. Rowe (who was later to become our principal), Daisy Shellhouse, Charles Geeting, Margaret Hemenway and Caroline Schaeffer were among the teachers. In the late 1930’s when we, the junior high age babies of 1921-1922, arrived we found locker-lined halls with terrazzo floors, airy, lighted rooms which were always amply heated (found out later our heat came from tunnels and ducts that carried forced air steam heat). We found two swimming pools (common thought was white/black, but the original intention was girls/boys), and a gymnasium that was the envy of all the area high schools because it had an indoor track. The cafeteria was grandly placed as a crown on the fourth floor level on the Mathison St. side of the building. A greenhouse was filled with beautiful tropical plants and there was a large library that contained as many as 5000 books. The lower floor was evoted entirely to vocational training. Located there was the Printing Dept., Woodworking, Foundry and Forge, the Auto Mechanics and Machine Shops, all with offices and lecture rooms. Just above the Library we found a crescent shaped room where we would sing and those in the orchestra and bands would be trained. We were not aware when we first entered the school that the office had a large built-in safe, and a telephone switchboard that connected all parts of the building to the main office. Peeking in the Clinic located at the east entrance, we saw a dental and optical clinic, examination room, pharmacy, nurses’ and doctor’s office all of which was arranged around a waiting room. Such was the building we entered in the 1930’s and graduated from in 1940. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL, GRAND, STATELY, and a place where we learned to work and to play in preparation for the real world. Our hearts were saddened in 1975 when it was decided to close the doors of Roosevelt High School forever. Too much vandalism and lack of students were cited as the reasons for the closing. The cost of maintaining it was overwhelming for Dayton City Schools. Our hearts were gladdened after many meetings later when it was decided to keep the GRAND OLD GIRL, not be used as a high school but for many other purposes. If you go into her doors today you will find within her 400 rooms: EDUCATION: Adult Basic, Adult & Continuing, Business & Consumer, Career, Economic, Special, Trade & Industrial, Vocational. SERVICES: Auxiliary, Counseling, Health, Psychological, Research & Testing. PROGRAMS: Career Development Resource Center, Disadvantaged Public Program, Occupational Work Experience, Youth Employment & Work Training. OTHER: Central State College West (extension), Third District Dayton City Police Dept. A return visit in 1987 to attend the Roosevelt 63rd Open House celebration revealed we can still be proud of is stately condition, and how fortunate we were to have such a functional, grand and elegant edifice in which to complete our high school education. It is in excellent condition and there is a long term plan to keep it that way. It continues to serve the community very well.
Written by Betty Hatfield Duckworth Charlotte HELSTERN Paughy