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The Endangered List

Old Hoover School
Christopher Gardner

Old Hoover School
1930­
1635 Park Ave., San Jose
The school was designed by W.H. Weeks, who designed schools all over the state along with San Jose's landmark Medical-Dental Building and the Sainte Claire Hotel. The Spanish-style Herbert Hoover Junior High School opened for the 1931 school year. According to the student paper "The Coordinator," the following was overheard in the school halls: "Gee, isn't this a swell school?" and "Oh, I wish this school wasn't so big, you almost lose yourself in it." Old Hoover closed down as a school in the 1970s when the Field Act earthquake standards went into effect. After that, it was used as a traffic school and as overflow office space for San Jose Unified School District. Three years ago the district decided to unload the building, but Rose Garden citizens banded together and sued to stop the sale, citing a state law that requires public input before a public school can be converted to something else. Many of the citizens had gone to junior high at Hoover and had fond memories of it. "People in the Rose Garden consider it a cornerstone, a throwback to a more gracious time," says Karen Vierra. Their research revealed that Old Hoover is probably the last Weeks building remaining that has the potential to go back into service as a school. But in order for that to happen, the district needs to find $6.5 million to bring it up to '90s standards with improvements including handicapped-access ramps, elevators and seismic improvements. The school could be eligible for $1.5 million in state seismic retrofit funds, but the greatest danger to the building is district indifference. As the process drags on, Old Hoover's roof leaks, causing damage inside.

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From the July 2-9, 1997 issue of Metro.

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