Unalakleet School and Quarters in 1938Records of the Bureau of Indians Affairs Juneau Area Office, Record Group 75, Box 9, National Archives--Pacific Alaska Region, Regional Archives, Anchorage, Alaska.
The Unalakleet School was built in 1933 by the Bureau of Indian Affairs with the help of a PWA grant. “The BIA constructed the building in 1933 for a day school in the community. A staff architect most likely designed the building. A similar design was used at several other BIA schools built at the time around Alaska. The Unalakleet school has Georgian Revival elements including classical balanced designs for the interior and exterior, pediments above the entrances, a cupola, and palladian windows. The BIA added shed dormers in 1937, and an addition to the west end of the building in 1954.
The building is oriented in an east-west direction. The original portion of the rectangular, two-and-a-half story building measures 68′ by 40′. It has a reinforced concrete foundation, balloon framing, and beveled wood siding. The gable roof originally had asphalt shingles but is now covered with corrugated metal. The eaves of the roof have Greek cornice returns. A cupola is aligned with the original entry and houses the school bell. Most of the original window and door openings and architectural elements remain. Inside, the first floor has a partially recessed basement that housed the kitchen, dining area, library, washrooms and storage. The second floor had five classrooms. Around the central hallway were two classrooms on the north, two on the south, and one on the west. The wood floors, plywood walls and ceiling, and chalkboards remain. The attic had two apartments.[…]The BIA converted the attic into two apartments in 1937 and added four shed dormers. The two dormers on the south facade have two side-by-side nine paned windows. Each dormer on the north elevation has a group of three windows, a 6/6 double-hung window flanked by fixed eight paned windows. The dormers are covered with asphalt shingles. The dormer roofs are corrugated metal with fascia boards.”
“During the 1930s, the school enrollment at Unalakleet gradually increased. In 1933 there were 61 students (36 boys and 25 girls), and in 1937 there were 80 students (47 boys and 33 girls). The school provided education through the eighth grade and some vocational training beyond. The BIA continued the Bureau of Education philosophy “to establish a day school in each native community which would be the pivot of progress for the community. The teacher was supposed to be qualified not only to act as instructor in the village school but also to perform the duties of builder, social director and medical worker for an entire community.” This philosophy owed much to the settlement house movement that had become popular around 1900. In sum, the program sought to make education practical and health care available.”
National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Unalakleet School, accessed on June 13, 2017. Wikipedia Page for Unalakleet School, accessed on June 13, 2017.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on June 13, 2017.
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