Preservation Watch List
2300 Cranberry Street, Erie
Roosevelt Middle School, built in 1922 and named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, is owned by Erie’s Public Schools. The district closed the school in 2007 because of on-going maintenance and safety concerns. It is a large property, consisting of a 99,000 sq. ft. building on 8.5 acres of land. The school is adjacent to historic Ainsworth Field, a district owned baseball field that twice hosted baseball legend Babe Ruth.
School buildings generally need major renovations every 20 to 30 years. Roosevelt was last renovated in 1975.
With the cooperation of the Erie School District and district architect Bob Marz, a design charrette was conducted on May 30, 2008, by Preservation Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s only statewide private, non-profit historic preservation organization. Preservation Erie helped make the arrangements and participated in the charrette.
Experienced architects from Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Erie toured Roosevelt Middle School, reviewed the school’s architectural plans, and studied educational specifications by the school district, which envisioned using Roosevelt as a K-8 elementary/middle school for 700 students. At that time, all three architects believed the school was an excellent candidate for continued service as a school and recommended repairs, such as new windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, and restoration of the building envelope including a new roof.
In 2017, Erie’s Public Schools received approval from the School Board to market its vacant buildings. Of the six buildings available for sale, Roosevelt was the only candidate for demolition if a buyer could not be found.
Update (May 2020): Erie’s Public Schools announced earlier in the month that demolition of Roosevelt School will begin in June/July 2020 with the removal of asbestos. The district has also confirmed that the tile panels depicting the life of Teddy Roosevelt around the fountains and other significant architectural features and artwork from Roosevelt were removed from the building in 2015 and are in storage at one of the district’s storage facilities.