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The Morse School, 1957 - 1997

By the 1950’s, the original Morse School had fallen into disrepair and could no longer meet the standards set by the school committee. The city obtained land between Memorial Drive and Granite Street from the Metropolitan District Commission, clearing tennis courts and swing sets, to make way for the new construction.

Carl Koch and Associates of Worcester, in collaboration with The Architects Collaborative of Cambridge, designed the new Morse School. With its one story, modular, glass-walled design, the plan embodied the new aesthetic of the Bauhaus movement.

morse_1957.jpgWhen the school was dedicated in June 1957, the school committee published an accompanying pamphlet. In it, the author describes the overall concept for the building: “to make the child want to come to school and provide an environment in which learning can be a happy experience.” Koch divided the school into four wings, grouping children by age. “The buildings were kept low to be in scale with the children using them. Bright durable colors were employed to to add cheerfulness, both inside and out, but only where they would not distract from the learning process.”

The core of the building was designed for evening and weekend use as a community center. From the wide lobby, visitors could easily access both the cafeteria and auditorium.  A large gym (70 feet by 90 feet) contained not only a regulation size basketball court, but also an oak backboard for practicing handball and tennis, and markings on the floor for badminton, volleyball, baseball, deck tennis, and shuffleboard.

The school boasted a fully appointed shop in which boys could learn cabinetry and metal- working. Equipment included a drill press, jigsaw, two lathes and soldering bench. A homemaking room abutted the courtyard. Sunlight flooded in through the floor to ceiling windows, enabling girls to easily see handwork projects.  Girls learned how to cook on both electric and gas ranges, and could inspect clothes they had sewn in a three-paneled mirror.  Each classroom had ample storage space for books and coats. Chalkboards, bulletin boards and map rails were all moveable, enabling each teacher to arrange his or her room in a unique manner. Natural light entered classrooms from both large windows and plastic bubble shaped “skydomes” in the ceilings. A state-of-the-art electrical cabinet in each classroom housed a telephone, program bells, intercom, clock and, perhaps most impressive of all, a 21-inch television.

When WGBH-TV began broadcasting “in-school television” less then a year after the Morse School (at Granite St.) opened, Morse students were ready to tune in. On March 29, 1958, the Boston Daily Globe reported that WGBH had aired its first thirty-minute school program, hosted by staff from the Museum of Science. Illustrating the piece with photographs of the Morse 6th grader, Philip Heyward watching the show.

‚ÄčLearn More
The Original Morse School, 1891 - 1956
The Morse School Gets Renovated 1999
Artwork Found Within the Walls for Morse School