Take a peek inside the renovated St. Petersburg High School

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.

The newly renovated St. Petersburg High School auditorium on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Refurbished skylight with uncovered repainted copper at the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Refurbished skylight with uncovered repainted copper at the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

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.”

The main entrance to the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
The main entrance to the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

There is a new cafeteria with new art and home economics classrooms upstairs, next to a renovated courtyard.

The newest addition to the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
The newest addition to the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Most of the chandeliers are original and refurbished at the newly refurbished St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Most of the chandeliers are original and refurbished at the newly refurbished St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

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.

Saint Petersburg High School Principal Darlene Lebo examines paintings by former principals in the historic library of the newly renovated Saint Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Saint Petersburg High School Principal Darlene Lebo examines paintings by former principals in the historic library of the newly renovated Saint Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
A 1925 upper class photo at the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
A 1925 upper class photo at the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

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.”

A pennant in the historic library of the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
A pennant in the historic library of the newly renovated St. Petersburg High School on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

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