Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright stated that “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.” The razing of Grant Elementary School on Wausau’s west side is not only the destruction of art and an important piece of Wausau’s history, but the destruction of an important piece of the neighborhood’s identity.
Built 110 years ago, on what was then the edge of town, Grant Elementary (then known as the Sixth Ward School) was a grand undertaking with an eye to the future. It became a mainstay of the neighborhood through the years. In 1921, the Parent Teacher Association was created and became the leader of many programs through the years. The neighborhood has shown its support through the years by attending programs, raising funds for improvements and demanding the school district make updates so the school remains an important part of the neighborhood.
The importance of Grant Elementary School’s architecture can be seen still today. The most recent architectural survey completed for the city of Wausau comments that the building is a good candidate for possible inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The Classical Revival style used in 1910 by architects VanRyn and DeGelleke has been well preserved, even with the recent additions. The more than 1,000,000 red bricks and white Bedford Stone is plainly visible. Details such as the parapets at the entrances, stone trim around the whole building and bay projection add to the beauty of this historic gem.
The work of architects VanRyn and DeGellecke can be seen throughout Wausau and central Wisconsin. Many of their buildings have been recognized for their beauty and significance to the community. In Wausau, you will find the Cyrus Yawkey Home (currently the Yawkey House Museum) and the Longfellow School (currently Wausau School District offices).
We, the Wausau Historic Preservation Commission, believe that the importance of Grant School, both historically and architecturally, makes it an excellent candidate for local historic landmark status. We believe it is of utmost importance that this building not be razed as proposed by the Wausau School District’s referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot. We ask that the public consider voting no on the referendum to show their support for this local piece of history.
The Wausau Historic Preservation Commission would like to invite the citizens of Wausau, and others who may have an interest in architecture and history, to the first meeting in the landmarking process to be held on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Wausau City Hall.
Linda Tryczak, Chairwoman, Wausau Historic Preservation Commission
Christine Martens, Vice-Chairwoman, Wausau Historic Preservation Commission
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