Westernport Elementary School (former Bruce High School): Expansion – Westernport MD

Project type: Education and Health, Schools
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In 1938, the New Deal’s Public Works Administration (PWA) awarded a grant for the construction of additions to Bruce High School (present-day Westernport Elementary School) in Westernport, Maryland. George F. Hazelwood of Cumberland, Maryland won the contract to build the additions with a bid of $79,940.

We don’t know the exact amount of PWA money that went towards the project, but the additions were part of a larger school improvements initiative in Allegany County, where the PWA put about $491,000 (45%) towards the total $1,092,000 required. Thus, the amount of PWA grant money that went towards the Bruce High School additions was probably around $36,000 ($718,000 in 2021 dollars).

The main addition was described as being on the east side of the school (see images below, especially the Google Earth aerial view that we’ve placed a blue marker on). Another addition was said to be at the rear of the school’s auditorium and would provide dressing and shower rooms. This is probably the very small rectangular area at the back of the school (i.e., the very last section of the main building – not the smaller detached structures), with what appears to be a heating and air conditioning unit on the roof.

The main New Deal addition to Bruce High School dramatically improved student and teacher opportunities, comfort, and safety: “The main addition contains a library-study hall, music room, offices, home economics and science laboratories, class rooms, teachers’ rest rooms, boys’ and girls’ lavatories, storage rooms, and several rooms suitable for use by newspaper staffs, debating teams, committees and small groups… The library on the top floor is 80 feet long and 23 feet wide. Thirteen large windows give abundant light… Across the hall from the library is the music room… Adequate closets provide for the storing of music, musical instruments and equipment… The library, music room and most of the new class rooms will be air conditioned… The type of construction [utilized for this project] renders the new addition practically fireproof…” (The Piedmont Herald, 8-17-1939).

The large expansion of Bruce High School was completed in the latter part of 1939 and, after several postponements, the dedication ceremony was held alongside graduation ceremonies on the evening of Wednesday, June 12, 1940. The dedication speech was made by President William A. Gunter, Allegany County Board of Education, and, among other recipients of honor, he dedicated the new additions to “Congress which contributed funds through the P.W.A.” (The Piedmont Herald, 6-13-1940).

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s
36000 43940 79940

Source notes

PWA Grant Made For New Addition To Bruce School,” The Piedmont Herald (Piedmont, West Virginia), August 18, 1938, p. 1.

Plans Submitted For New Additions To Bruce School,” The Piedmont Herald (Piedmont, West Virginia), December 1, 1939, p. 1.

Work Progresses On New Addition To Bruce School,” The Piedmont Herald (Piedmont, West Virginia), January 5, 1939, p. 1.

Bruce High School Additions To Be Finished Next Week,” The Piedmont Herald (Piedmont, West Virginia), August 17, 1939, p. 1.

82 High School Graduates Receive Diplomas Last Night,” The Piedmont Herald (Piedmont, West Virginia), June 13, 1940, p. 1.

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Location Info

172 Church Street
Westernport, MD 21562

Coordinates: 39.481914, -79.041683

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