Historic Ogden High launches restoration campaign

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OGDEN -- A Utah community Friday kicked off a multi-million dollar campaign to preserve the nation's first million dollar high school. If you've ever seen, or attended, Ogden High School you know it's an art deco masterpiece.

Back in 1936, economic recovery money paid for the construction of Ogden High School as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Project Works Administration. Now, the Ogden School Foundation needs to raise $9 million to preserve the best architectural features.

Ogden High School was born in the Great Depression. Now, its alumni launched a rebirth in the "Great Recession."

Campaign co-chairman Rob White explained, "It's an architectural treasure, it anchors the City of Ogden. It's the most beautiful building in the state. It's one of the most beautiful schools in the country."

White, Class of '72, admits a bias, but he's not alone. Ogden voters approved a bond for the school district to upgrade the historic school with state-of-the-art learning facilities, so it will function like a new school. This capital campaign for private funds will cover the cost of historic preservation, and they've already come up with $6.8 million.

Dean Hurst, Class of 1944 and head of the Stewart Education Foundation, was one of the school's early students. He says they were thrilled to be Ogden Tigers.

[Ogden High School](http://www.ksl.com/?sid=6258271&nid=691&tab=schools&sch_id=5948813) was built in 1937 as part of the federal work projects initiated during the Great Depression. It underwent a major remodel in 1968. The Tiger's athletic complex was added in 1978. It is ranked the third most beautiful school, architecturally, in the nation. Its architecture can be traced to ancient Assyria. The artwork in the auditorium was done by well-known Utah decorator, H. H. Clawson. The walls in the rotundas are made of marble from the hills of Tennessee, and the wood trim is made of black walnut, shipped from the hardwood forests of the mid-west. Almost 1,500 students attend Ogden High, which covers grades 10-12.
"We were a student body with one thing in mind, and that was the spirit of Ogden High," says Hurst. "It was bright and shiny, and we were so proud of this school. We loved to be here."

Renovation already started on the art-deco auditorium and exterior windows. The auditorium should be finished in a couple of years; other renovations will continue in stages after that.

Hurst explained, "We took great pride and pleasure in being referred to as the 'Million Dollar High School.' It was the 'castle on the hill.'"

Students continue classes around construction, and already enjoy a new commons and new gym.

"This school is more than just a high school," says Hurst. "It was more than a library. It was a storehouse of memories for tens of thousands of people who got their first leg up on the ladder here."

If you would like to help restore Ogden High, CLICK HERE.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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Jed Boal


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