The red bricked Fishweir Elementary School just celebrated its 100th birthday. Originally
called Fishweir Grammar School, it was the twentieth public school built in the city, one of the few to survive today. Built by the O.P. Woodstock Company, the four-room school was built on a cow pasture for $32,200. At the time, many of the 70 students arrived down Herschel Street by horse-drawn carriage.
Famed architect Henry John Klutho designed the 1926 addition to the school. Classrooms were added in 1928, 1936, and 1937; the auditorium was built in 1930. In 1949, the cafeteria was constructed. The four kindergarten rooms were added to the front of the school in 1950. The most recent addition was the library wing which was completed in 1985. Over the years, the school has rambled into a “U” shape around a central courtyard, which maintains the school’s historical look. The school building, which still has many original doors, arches, and transoms, was freshly painted this year.
In 1976, the state’s Department of Education recommended closing the school since it was an older structure. But Riverside Avondale Preservation confronted the recommendation, stating that older schools had interesting architecture, higher ceilings, larger rooms and decorative details not found in modern schools. Thanks to the community outcry and RAP’s efforts, the school survived and is a fixture in the Avondale community. It is now a dedicated arts magnet which specializes in dance, theater, arts, chorus and band and has continuity to LaVilla Middle School and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
The Four Freedoms posters by Norman Rockwell that line the auditorium were donated by Mrs. Elizabeth Towers in 1943. U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw attended in the 1950s and was School Boy Patrol captain. The community is invited to a 100th birthday celebration on Friday, May 19th from 5-8PM.