Months of renovations at St. Petersburg High School are coming to an end, in an effort to preserve the building’s history as new additions are made.
The building at 2501 5th Ave N. is nearly a century old, said manager Darlene Lebo. Although the school has existed in many different forms since the late 1800s, the current building, billed as the country’s first “million dollar high school”, opened in 1926.
Since the school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the school district enlisted restoration specialists to help with the renovation process. Most of the work was done over the summer. The price to pay: $ 44 million.
Even the small features have been spruced up, from the light fixtures and ceilings repainted to the hand-painted details on the terra cotta at the front of the building.
“The colors had faded so badly, and a lot of the marble and stuff was chipping and falling apart,” Lebo said. “But it’s really so beautiful now.”
There is a new cafeteria with new art and home economics classrooms upstairs, next to a renovated courtyard.
The Archives Room, which is the original library, now contains artifacts from the history of the school over the years.
“Ultimately it will become a bit like a museum,” Lebo said.
There are old yearbooks dating back to the 1920s, historic student newspaper issues, paintings of administration members, a collection of class rings, and even an old Mr. Green Devil mascot head.
“The story I heard was that they were playing a soccer game and someone said, ‘Watch these little devils run,’” Lebo said. “And that’s where the name comes from.”