About Open-Air Schools
The schools were a single-story building with integrated gardens, and pavilion-like classrooms increased children’s access to the outdoors, fresh air, and sunlight. They were mostly built in areas away from city centers, sometimes in rural locations, to provide a space free from pollution and overcrowding.
New School House
Free education and fresh air has interested educators from as far away as Paris, France“Oakland Tribune – May 13, 1913
The first open-air school in Oakland was established at the Fruitvale School No. 2 (now Hawthorne School) on Tallent Street (now East 17th). When it opened, there were forty students enrolled, from grades third through seventh. Miss Lulu Beeler was selected as the teacher because she had prior experience working in an open-air school in the East.
The school designed to help cure ill and tubercular children. The focus was on improving physical health through the infusion of fresh air in the classrooms and into the children’s lungs. The school was established as a medical experiment. The school reserved for children judged to be of “weak” disposition.
The Fruitvale school is decidedly a health school”Oakland Tribune May 13, 1913
It was constructed at the rear of the playground, one hundred feet from the existing main building.
The square, the wood-framed building was raised to prevent underfloor dampness.
Each of the sides had a different treatment to reflect the sun. The southern side had tall windows that, when open, didn’t seem to be enclosed. The east side was opened to the elements with only half of a wall. A screen protected them from insects. In case of storms awnings can be pulled down to protect the students.
The school was to be the first in a series of open-air schools installed on the grounds of Oakland’s existing city schools.
There was some objection in opening the school, from the parents of the selected children and the children themselves. The parents did not want their children singled out; the children worried they would be teased as being “sick.” These fears were realized, and the teachers struggled with how to deal with the repeated taunts
The idea of the open-air classroom was incorporated in many of the new schools built in the 1920s. I don’t know how long the Fruitvale Open Air school was open. I will update if I find more information.
Growing Children Out of Doors: California’s Open-Air Schools and Children’s Health, 1907-1917 – Camille Shamble Los Gatos, California – May 2017
Open air school – Wikipedia
Collection of Photos – OMCA
- Open Air School Proposed- Oakland Tribune Feb 09, 1910
- Fruitvale Open Air School – Oakland Tribune Jul 15, 1910
- School Children Enjoy the Open Air – SF Chronicle July 15, 1910
- Recite Lessons on Open Air Schools – SF Call Aug 02, 1910
- Fighting the White Plague in Oakland – SF Call Aug 25, 1910
- Open Air Schools Urged – SF Call Mar 03, 1911
- Open-Air Schools for Afflicted Pupils – Oakland Tribune Mar 30, 1911
- School for Tots Opened – Oakland Tribune Oct 06, 1911
- Open Air Schools to be Topic – SF Call Oct 27, 1912