‘H’ shape of 5-story school may have been a de­lib­er­ate honor

The Buffalo News - - CITY & RE­GION -

“City Hon­ors, Grover Cleve­land, HutchTech and South Park were all built within a year or two, which is in­cred­i­ble – four huge high schools – and re­flec­tive of the growth of Buf­falo back then.”

You may not notice from the ground, but the five-story school is in the shape of an “H,” some say de­signed that way in honor of the Hutchin­son fam­ily, which do­nated the land for use as a school.

“We have so many beau­ti­ful mar­ble fea­tures through­out the build­ing, es­pe­cially in the main en­trance­way, and the most gor­geous wood, par­tic­u­larly in the door­ways when you come in,” said Peter LoJa­cono, a vet­eran Hutch-Tech teacher. “The au­di­to­rium is a mas­ter­piece.” Hutch-Tech didn’t start out here. The school traces its roots back to 1904 when Me­chan­ics Arts High School opened on the sec­ond floor of Gram­mar School 11 on Elm Street, near Clin­ton Street, as a school for “tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a school web­site.

One of three such schools in the state at the time, the high school soon be­came Buf­falo Tech­ni­cal High School and quickly out­grew the build­ing.

A new lo­ca­tion was opened in 1914 on Ea­gle and Cedar Streets.

It wasn’t un­til a half-cen­tury later, in 1954, when it moved to its cur­rent down­town lo­ca­tion as part of a merger with Hutchin­son Cen­tral, McDonnell said.

The school, lo­cated in the city’s West Vil­lage His­toric Dis­trict, was re­con­structed in 2007. The project in­cluded new science labs, re­lo­cat­ing the cafe­te­ria to the ground floor and adding a reg­u­la­tion-size bas­ket­ball court, McDonnell said. The front of the school along Elm­wood was con­verted into sort of an “out­door ter­race” for the stu­dents to con­gre­gate while wait­ing for the bus.

It showed you could take a 100-yearold build­ing and turn it into a 21st-cen­tury learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment, McDonnell said.

“One of my fa­vorite things is the au­di­to­rium,” LoJa­cono said.

Be­neath the or­di­nary, white sus­pended ceil­ing in the au­di­to­rium, work­ers found the stained glass from the orig­i­nal sky­light.

“It’s ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful,” LoJa­cono said. “Why they would have cov­ered it up, I have no idea.”

Stu­dents take an en­trance exam to be ad­mit­ted to Hutch-Tech, which has a di­verse en­roll­ment and of­fers four en­gi­neer­ing ma­jors.

It is fit­ting, McDonnell said, that such a sig­nif­i­cant build­ing is where fu­ture engi­neers and ar­chi­tects are be­ing taught.

LoJa­cono said he’s bi­ased, but he thinks Hutch-Tech has the best stu­dents in Buf­falo.

“I’ve been here 30 years and I feel like I’m not com­ing to work,” he said, “It’s my home away from home.”

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