The Chicago Schoolhouse
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Distributed by University of Chicago Press
Chicago, Architecture, Education
7 x 9 portrait
Illustration count and type:
High School Architecture and Educational Reform, 1856-2006
by Dale Allen Gyure
School buildings are vitally important in American lives yet largely invisible in the landscape of architectural studies. Between the ages of five and eighteen, the average American child probably spends more time in a school building than any other single place outside the home. The schoolhouse’s significance cannot be overestimated in a country where education is not only compulsory, but is also an integral part of our national self-image. Freedom, democracy, and education have been linked for centuries in the United States, from the founding fathers’ belief in the necessity of an educated electorate, to the 1960s Civil Rights movement, to the current “No Child Left Behind” program.
Given education’s salient position in American culture, one might assume school buildings—the physical structures where formal education actually happens—would be the objects of historical curiosity and scholarly analysis. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. In the field of educational history, although a rich body of literature has increased our understanding of administrative and curricular issues, scholars have made few attempts to connect educational reform with school architecture. Architectural historians have also largely ignored school buildings as an area of study.
The Chicago Schoolhouse redresses this neglect and creates a narrative for one specific city, at the high school level, that seeks to illuminate nationwide developments. It explains how we arrived at the current state of school architecture, using Chicago’s high school buildings as examples.
Dale Allen Gyure is an Associate Professor of Architecture at Lawrence Technological University, where he teaches classes in architectural history and theory, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Goucher College, where he teaches a course in American Architectural History and serves as Co-Director of the Master’s Thesis program.