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Alta Vista School
El Paso, Texas


Description: Alta Vista School
Other Names: none
Address: 3500 La Luz, between Grama and Montana Streets, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: educational: elementary school
Original Client: El Paso County Board of Education
Historic Inventory: none
Date: opened September 3, 1912
Condition: extant; in use as elementary school

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost
Contractors: contractor for the 1916 additions and remodeling was Kroeger, Mayfield & Shaw
Dimensions and Orientation: as expanded in 1916, two stories with elevated basement, T-shaped, 212 feet, 4 inches across the west facade; 15 classrooms, other facilities, and an auditorium (see Remarks, below); faces west
Budget/Cost: total cost of 1916 additions and remodeling: $73,000

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: reinforced concrete, stuccoed
Roofing Materials: flat roof
Other Materials Used: wood window surrounds
Remodeling and Additions: see remarks

Present Owner: El Paso Independent School District
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 597, photograph of first floor plan
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 420, First unit, side entrance and wing; Ponsford 419, perspective view with landscaping. Aultman 5403, (identical to Ponsford 419).

Bibliography: (1) El Paso Herald, August 26, 1916, Progress and Building Section, page 2 (includes exterior photograph, states that work of enlarging the Alta Vista School is nearly completed, describes the enlarged building, names architects and contractor, gives budget, adds that Alta Vista School is one of the few reinforced concrete school buildings in the country)
(2) The American School Board Journal, volume 64, number 5, May, 1922, page 66, photograph of general view, three ground plans
(3) William George Bruce, compiler, Grade Schools Buildings, Book II (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1925), pages 236-237

Remarks: The building was planned and built in stages. The original unit, eight classrooms, opened in 1912; this was expanded in 1916 to include 15 classrooms, a kindergarten, an auditorium, and a full basement including manual training and domestic science rooms, as well as a Boys Play Room and a Girls Play Room. (Vilas School was planned in the same manner, except in the case of Vilas, only one unit was built.)

Presently, there are several additions which are not by Trost & Trost: a north wing including living quarters for maintenance personnel; a south wing with connecting corridor, and a large addition at the area of the original north entry.

Alta Vista is believed to be the first school in the Southwest to be constructed of reinforced concrete, as Henry Trost claimed (letter and Two page enclosure, Henry C. Trost to Robert E. Vinson, January 4, 1917 [University of Texas Presidents’ Office Records, Barker Texas History Center of the University of Texas at Austin]). In the two page enclosure accompanying his letter, Trost wrote: Alta Vista School Building. It was the first reinforced concrete, fireproof school building in the entire southwest.
Commission – number 2348.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990