Save Rudolph’s Sarasota High School

Letter to the Editorsave shs, Sarasota Herald Tribune
By Madison Touchton
Sarasota High School Class of 2016

I’m a freshman in the AICE and MaST programs at Sarasota High and plan to be an architect. I agree we need 21st-century labs, which currently involves gutting the interior of historic Building 4. Can’t we have both?

Money has been found for other schools; why can’t it be found for one of such historical significance? Why can’t the School Board find the funds to restore Paul Rudolph’s Building 4 and give MaST the labs we were promised? Why can’t the labs go in another building? Use Building 4 for administration and other functions.

I’ve heard people say “Rudolph isn’t Frank Lloyd Wright, so why does it matter?” No, he’s not Frank Lloyd Wright; he’s Paul Rudolph, famous in his own right.

Sarasota is the birthplace to the Sarasota School of Architecture, influencing architecture worldwide. This building is important to the history of SHS, the history of Sarasota, and the history of Sarasota education.

To my knowledge, there are only four schools in the world by Rudolph. Two were in Sarasota, where Riverview was demolished and SHS is at risk. Of the other two, one is to become a parking lot and the other renovated, not restored.

It is important that the SHS building be restored to Rudolph’s design. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s not like he’s designing more. Protecting his buildings in Sarasota is a must. I know we need labs; however, in my heart I’m an architect.

Editor: Because the Tribune limits letters to 250 words, the following are the extended and unprinted comments by Ms. Touchton:

First, thank you so much Herald-Tribune for waiting five days to publish my letter, until after the School Board has already voted to continue with the destruction of this historic building. Since Letters to the Editor are limited to 250 words, here’s some of what I had to ‘gut’:

I have seen many articles published about Building 4, including photographs of the interior. Photographs of the interior as it is now: dank, dark, and depressing. No wonder it has been difficult to convince the Public of the importance of restoring this beautiful building. Why not run pictures of the way it once was: bright, open, and inspiring? Show them side-by-side to allow people to see how it once was, and could be again. How about telling a little of the significance of this building in Sarasota’s education history? This building is being described now as holding back the advancement of education in Sarasota; when the whole reason for its existence in the first place was to give to the children of Sarasota a progressive new school and school system. This is not just a historic building, not just a work of one the most significant architect’s of the 20th century, not just a piece of Sarasota history.. no, this building is not holding back our education … it’s a flagship building to the history of the Sarasota school system that shows how a community once took the time and money to give the students of Sarasota the education they deserved. Give this building the honor and respect it deserves. As to the need for 21st century learning opportunities, the need for MaST labs, we need those too. I know that my classmates are for the destruction of this building because they are being told that we will not get our promised labs any other way. We can have both. Build out, build up, but please don’t gut this building.

Madison Touchton
Sarasota High School Class of 2016