So here’s a study in fashion from Fall of 1947. These young women are modeling the latest in style for a newspaper special section on fashion sponsored by the big downtown department stores like Rhodes and the trendy women’s shops like Lyons. They have all graduated from Stadium High School and are posing in the shadow of the Châteauesque landmark before heading off to college.
But fashion changes and before these bright students could graduate, The Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by the School Board and representing 175 civic and service organizations, began calling for the demolition and replacement of the 1906 building. The mid 1950’s brought Stadium High School to the brink of destruction as its architectural counterparts like the Romanesque County Courthouse and Italianate City Hall were marked for annihilation. Elsewhere downtown, the department stores and dress shops were seeing their last days, even though they didn’t know it. Charmed by the modern notion that they would thrive nearer the new interstate in a car friendly shopping mall, many moved but few survived.
Like Tacoma’s Old City Hall, Stadium was saved by the distraction of a shiny new building that flashed glass and aluminum and a new post war idea about how American cities should look. In a way Wilson High School saved Stadium. The year Wilson was finished they put a new roof on the old castle, fixed the windows, added a little paint and did some work on the gym. That was 1958 and by the time those repairs were worn out, fashion was back on Stadium’s side. Timeless style should carry it from here on.
July 1959 demolition of the Pierce County Courthouse. The fate narrowly avoided by Stadium High School just one year earlier.