Fresno High takes a swing at restoring its classic look

Fundraiser lets people smash walls of old 'bunkers' in front of Royce Hall

The Fresno BeeJuly 9, 2013 

Back in your high school days, did you ever imagine grabbing a hammer and smashing the wall of the principal's office?

More than 100 Fresno high school students, alumni and community members got that chance Tuesday night during the school's "Bringing Down the Bunkers" fundraiser.

Junior Noah Parry -- sporting a hard hat and safety glasses -- gladly took a swing at the principal's office with a sledgehammer.

"I don't know many people who can say they did that in high school," Parry said. "I'm happy to see them go."

Others preferred to write messages on the walls of the library.

The mayhem had a motive. With two new buildings under construction, the existing library and administration buildings in the front of the school, known as the "bunkers," are being demolished.

First, though, came Tuesday's fundraiser. People paid $5 to take a swing or $10 to take three.

"People were telling me they were willing to tear them down with their bare hands, so we came up with this idea," said Carol Mills, a Fresno Unified school board member.

The bunkers -- built in 1971 -- marred the front entrance to the campus and the view of Fresno High's main building, Royce Hall.

Ellie Huston -- Eloise Mason when she graduated from Fresno High in 1955 -- said it's about time the bunkers are destroyed: "Having those two buildings out front was a disgrace. They ruined the beautiful architecture of Royce Hall, one of the most beautiful buildings in town."

In place of the bunkers will be a grassy plaza resembling the school's entrance as it was in the 1950s. Two new two-story buildings, expected to be finished in time for the new school year, will house classrooms, a career center, a library and administration. Those structures will reflect the classical architecture of Royce Hall, which opened in 1922 and was restored in 2003 after a fire.

Funding for the new construction comes from a slice of $280 million in school repair dollars approved by voters in 2010 under the Fresno Unified Measure Q bond measure.

Proceeds from Tuesday's fundraiser will go toward the school's parents organization, the Fresno High School Tribal Council.

 

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6659 or daguilera@fresnobee.com.

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