Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Return to Enright Middle

On the same day that Chris, Tunajive, and Inubis and I had visited St. Mary's Infirmary, we also made a trip out to Enright Middle School. None of the other guys had seen the place, and I really wanted to return during the day so I could have a little more freedom with taking pictures.

Since my last post on Enright, I have learned that I was incorrect in my belieft that William B. Ittner designed Enright Middle. I used to help me find the actual architect: a firm called Mauran, Russell & Garden. Also, as you can see from this picture, Enright Middle School was not always known as such. It has been known at different times as Smith Academy & Manual Training School, Blewett Junior High School, Harris Teacher's College, and Enright Classical Junior Academy.

The first thing that I noticed when we attempted to enter the building was that the entrance I had used before wouldn't work. It had involved climbing through a high window onto shelves in a storage room. Inubis was the first to try. "Where am I supposed to go?" "Just climb into the room on the shelves," I said. "What shelves?" So, we ended up dropping the 10 feet or so into the storage room. Except for Chris, who realized that the outside door on the outside wall was open. Damn him and his "being smart!" It was obvious right away why the shelves were no longer there: Renovation had begun on the school. All of the trash and rubble that used to be in this area was gone! The shop rooms, which used to still have all the old work tables, were completely empty. The broken mirrors and sinks in the restrooms had also been cleaned up. I had one of those bittersweet moments that an explorer experiences when they realize that a place they love is being saved, but will soon be off limits to them. I was glad that the other guys were getting a chance to see the school before it was completely closed off.

I may have spoken too soon. From the shop and art areas in the back, there is one hallway that leads to the rest of the school's interior. It was securely chained. Perhaps they wouldn't get to see the school after all. We wandered around the outside of the building in the back and found our way into the boiler room. Never having been in a school's boiler room before, I was amazed at the huge air ducts that left the boilers and headed into the school. They were so large that we were able to walk around on them with little difficulty.

It was then that someone noticed our possible entrance to the school. There was a utility tunnel that left the boiler room at it's lowest point. Success! We ended up being right, as the tunnel led to another electrical room in the school. It required a pretty tight squeeze between some pipes, but we weren't going to let that stop us.

Inside the school, it was again clear the amount of work that was being done on the building. Much of the crumbling material on the floors had been removed, and there were instructions written everywhere with spray paint like "demo this wall" and a line. Inubis found a can of the spray paint, and we all commented that it would be pretty funny to instruct them to demolish some additional walls, just to really confuse everyone, but we're not that evil! We also saw a few high tech looking machines apparently used for cleaning up the asbestos. The most interesting aspect of the renovation was one of the fourth floor gymnasiums: It was completely covered with plastic on every wall, like some kind of clean room in case of radiation spill or something.

Apparently, the plan for Enright is for it to be made into apartments, as well as 24 luxury houses being built on the large field in front of the school. As always, I am glad this historic and beautiful building is being used in some way, and I guess there are worse things that apartments and luxury houses. Hopefully, it will help to revitalize an area of the city that seems to really need it.

Does anyone else think that this sign is as funny as I do?!


Blogger s00zi said...

I went to Enright CJA when I was a kid. It was kind of sad to see it in such bad shape.

I've had friends who have gotten in there and written notes on the boards. They did not report the severity of disrepair that is depicted in your pics.

Thanks for the show.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Michael Allen said...

I see that some of my jackass chalkboard writings are still intact.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Which ones were yours? There were so many killer ones! Wait, were you the one that said "This bathroom smells like pee?" I think that was my favorite!

11:57 PM  
Blogger salad_days said...

I absolutely cannot believe that my chalk drawings are still up after all these years! Additionally, I sometimes forget what an Animaniacs dweeb I was.

1:43 PM  
Blogger salad_days said...

Oh, while I'm nabbing one of your photos (full credit to you, of course), here are directions to my blog:

1:59 PM  
Blogger gifthorsley said...

I went to CJA from about 1984-1991 (2nd-8th grades). After that my family moved to Las Vegas but I have a lot of good memories of that school. Seeing these pictures made me so sad, I hate to see the building fell into such awful disrepair. It was a good school....

12:26 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Huh. It's been 24 years since I was there. I attended CJA from the time it opened (fifth grade) until I got kicked out 2/3 through eighth. As imperfect as it was, I'm pretty sure it saved my life. I had no idea it was gone and I'm kind of melancholy about your pictures. -- But I'd totally have done the same. :)

5:16 AM  
Blogger sunneblues said...

Thank you SOOOOO much for the pictures. I was only able to capture outside shots. I am such a sentimental character. I visited about 3/4 year ago and was shocked to see my school shut down. I attended when it was CJA 1983-1986 5th - 8th grade. Lotta great memories there! Just looking at the building I transcended time and could see myself back in the day. It was such an experience, but I just cried and cried it was hard to believe that it was not “my” school anymore. I am glad that the building will be saved. I now take a gazillion pictures, of treasured places from my past…because as we know…time changes and so does the landscape. I did not have many pictures from when I attended. Which makes it that much more frustrating. I now take and encourage my son to take plenty of pictures to document his school life.

Anyway…thanks again. I really appreciate the final look.

J. Barlow

7:05 AM  
Blogger alexis said...

I went to CJA from '87 to '92...and have been back to look at the building quite a few times...but never had to courage to go's such an amazing building- and now that I look back I got a great education-it was a cool environment to be in...anyway, I wondered what was going on with it,,,thanks for posting these pictures-
by the way...i'm the one who snagged the Enright Middle sign in the front entrance..ha!

2:36 PM  
Blogger Lil Gus 12 said...

I started at Enright CJA when it first opened for gifted students and graduated in 1985. I now teach at McKinley CJA and love it. Enright, along with Mrs. Purdy, moved to the McKinley location in the fall of 1994-the year before I was hired. Believe it or not Mrs. Purdy was still there and was the one to hire me. There were several of my teachers still there when I started. Over the years almost all of them have retired, only Mrs. Simms (a.k.a Ms. Hughes) and Mrs. Smith still remain. When Mrs. Purdy retired, I took the Enright Middle sign from in front of the school and was going to have it mounted on a plaque for her as a present because that school was her life. I didn't do it, and I still have the sign in my basement. So what sign did Alexis take?

R. Gutzler
Enright CJA
C/O 1985

9:51 PM  
Blogger Mialsya said...

I went to Enright CJA 1991-1994 and was part of the last graduating class. It's amazing to see the pictures you posted. Even in it's rundown state, I can look at those and remember running the track on the field in front, walking those halls with friends, performing in the band and choir in the 4th floor gym, and rushing to get my books out of those lockers between classes. Thank you for this trip down memory lane. Those three years were wonderful.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I graduated from CJA in 1983. My class was the first to move in in 1980. It was a great school, the first of it's kind and progressive in so many ways. It's too bad to see it empty like that. I have lots of good memories and trips to the principals office there. My class I think was the worst behaved in their history. Being gifted, came in alot of forms. Thanks for the memories.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Lil Gus,
I have the sign that says, Enright Middle and it's wooden, the one off the big metal pole by the steps. When I took that one underneath was the Blewett HighSchool metal letters. I wonder which one you have...hmmm.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wow, I went there too and haven't seen the building in a long time. It really brings me back. I wonder if the tree i adopted in the park next door is doing ok....

2:48 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Fruhwirth said...

I also attended CJA from 81 to 85. Infact Lil Gus was my boyfriend for a short time!! ;) It kills me that it got so run down. But my heart was filled with joy to see the rehab in progress (Roberts Brothers project). I too went on to become a teacher and taught for St. Louis Public schools from 1993 until 2001 at Blow Middle and Cleveland NJROTC before moving to the Mehlville School District.
Jennifer Fruhwirth
CJA c/o 1985
Proud product of the St. Louis Public Schools
English Teacher

11:23 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Yeah, I went in 1991 to 1993...Had some GREAT times at that school...that is so cool that the chalk drawings are still there. Great I-report on our old stomping ground!

1:22 PM  
Blogger ike said...

Does anyone have a yearbook from 83-84 through 86-87 or know where I can get a copy?

1:03 PM  
Blogger ambermurrell said...

I went to CJA from1992-1994 7th and 8th grade. seeing these pics brought back memories and it saddened me to see the pplace so bad off.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Puggg said...


C/O '91 here as well. We might know each other. Though I didn't start until Jan '88, halfway through the 5th Grade.

You might remember, but they were talking about moving CJA to McKinley the year we were in 8th grade, the talk was as early as the 91-92 school year. Most of our classmates were bummed b/c McKinley had a pool. I was bummed b/c McKinley was close to my house, I could have walked to and from school. The move wasn't actually made until 1994.

2:35 PM  
Blogger blincoebunch said...

Wow- Lil Gus and Jennifer Fruhwirth, it's neat to hear you two are teachers in St. Louis. Yes, it was sad to see the school in such bad shape. Seeing the pictures brought back many memories from when I attended with Robby, Jennifer and so many more fun people. That place was something special.

Stacy Porter-Blincoe
Nurse-and product of CJA

9:42 PM  
Blogger AskME said...

i also attended CJA. wow! memories. As far as the construction I do believe The Roberts brothers are developing the site.
I made plenty jump shots in that gym with Mr. Grice.
class of '91

9:26 AM  
Blogger Alli said...

I know that this is an old blog post, but I actually live in one of the lofts in this old school. I was trying to find out some information about it and I am so happy that I stumbled upon these pictures. Thanks!

11:37 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

It's actually pretty creepy (but awesome) to see the photos of what it looked like inside before being the apartments I love to visit now. The building is beautiful, and they've kept the "school" theme; the walls behind the sink and stove and countertops are covered in chalkboard paint, you can draw all over the walls. :)

11:57 AM  
Blogger robnmisha said...


The sign that you have, I think, is the sign that was an under the one that I took. Mine is made of fiberglass and has black painted letters on it. I still teach at Classical Academy at McKinley; look me up some time and we can compare signs.

Rob Gutzler
Enright c/o 85 and
(Lil Gus) Soldan c/o 89

10:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic.Madre said...

WOW! My parents, aunts & uncles (from both sides) all went to Enright Middle. As a matter of fact, my mom was pregnant with me and went into labor while attending. I've had the opportunity of visiting the building since the rehab and it's a beaut!

8:59 PM  
Blogger Mr. Gibson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Mr. Gibson said...

Thanks for the pictures! I was under the impression that the school was torn down. I went to Enright for Summer School before the program got moved to McKinley and went there from 96-99. Lil Gus was my Social Studies Teacher (You'll remember who I am at the bottom when you see the last name for sure). I remember some of those places and the bathroom with a huge whole in it where you could see down to the next floor.

Social Studies Teacher
Clayton High School

4:21 PM  
Blogger Courtney Rae said...

Does anyone know what year this actually opened as Enright CJA? I am an admin for the facebook group for Alumni and cannot find accurate info on it.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Courtney Rae said...

Does anyone know what year this actually opened as Enright CJA? I am an admin for the facebook group for Alumni and cannot find accurate info on it.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Fruhwirth said...

It opened in the fall if 1980. I was in the very lowest grade the year it opened, 4th grade. I graduated 8th grade from there in the spring of 85.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Anna Knobeloch said...

I never had the privilege of attending Enright during regular school since I was just young enough to get into Kennard in its first year. However, I was able to attend the six week summer school sessions at Enright until they were eventually moved to Mckinley. I was quite young and the building was huge and majestic. I remember ogling the spot in the basement where legend dictated someone had fallen to their death from sliding down a bannister on a higher floor. I also remember having Mr. Gutzler at McKinley his very first year for 6th grade social studies where he told us stories about having Mrs. Dennent as a teacher way back when at the old CJA. :)

2:43 AM  
Blogger Anna Knobeloch said...

Addendum to Mr. G: How does it feel to know that the first group of kids you taught are all turning 30 this school year? Because I'm having a hard time dealing, myself.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Rob Gutzler said...

Hey Anna! Glad to hear you're doing good. I'm good and I'm still teaching at McKinley. Look me up and let's reminense.
December 3 2014

2:44 PM  
Blogger Peak Law said...

I'm a bit late to the party,but thanks for posting these pictures. It was great to see CJA once again, but sad to see it in that state. I often try to explain to people just how awesome that school was and what a huge impact it had on my life, but only other CJA alumni can truly understand. I graduated in '86 (was there from 3rd-8th). I am now an attorney.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the pictures. They bring back so many memories of roaming the has as a 7th and 8th grader during 70-72. I learned to play the clarinet during summer camp. An introduction to Spanish and square dance, tennis, and guitar was given in the after school program. The sock hops in the gym were out of sight! Walking to the store close by for lunch was a daily excursion with friends. Mr. Smith, the one armed math teacher would swat at our legs with his "rattan" as we ran past his room on the way to lunch. Falling on the asphalt track during practice left still visible scars on my knees. Fond memories.

I glad to see that the beautiful building will have new life.

5:07 AM  
Blogger COSMOTROPICAL said...

I went there I think 80-81

12:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Anybody had the teacher Mr wise a math teacher at the middle school?

9:46 PM  
Blogger Starrchild said...

Anybody had the teacher Mr wise a math teacher at the middle school?

9:47 PM  

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