Building Description John T. West School, Norfolk Virginia

The John T. West School was a complex of three connected and one separate buildings. These buildings lie on a 2-acre site in a predominantly residential area. The buildings are clustered near the north border of the lot. The original building lies near the north border of the lot. The south addition, which doubled the school's size, is located directly to the south, but extends slightly to the east of the original building, due to its larger size. Connecting these buildings is a two-story ell, which is connected to a cafeteria addition located to the west. The cafeteria addition extends west to Calhoun Street. North of the cafeteria is a simple concrete block building with a rectangular footprint, which housed a music room. There is an open greenspace to the south of the south addition extending to Denhart Street. There is some blacktop remaining just south of the south addition, and also a portion of a former jungle gym.

The original building is a two-story, rectangular 7-course-American-bond brick masonry building, with a low hipped roof treated with asphalt shingles. The facade has a central entrance with a double-leaf wood door surmounted by a multi-light, fixed transom. The doors are accessed via a poured concrete stair flanked by brick wing walls. There is a projecting, three-course brick watertable with small rectangular openings to the crawlspace below the first story. The south part of the facade has two groupings of three windows each, and the north part has four individual windows, on each story. (This configuration is also found on the west elevation.) There is also a grouping of three windows on the second story above the entrance. The windows are original wood, four-over-four, double-hung sash. The windows have cast concrete sills and soldier-and-rowlock-course brick flat arches. Above the second-story windows' flat arches is a wood, box cornice. Applied to the eave is a hanging, copper gutter. On the roof ridge are three roof vents, with a large one in the center. There is also a brick chimney on the north slope of the roof near the ridge. On the north elevation, there are seven evenly spaced windows on each story. The first story windows have been filled due to a one-story, brick addition, which houses mechanical equipment. A chimney rises from this addition near the north elevation of the original building. A cornerstone at the northeast comer of the facade, at ground level, reads, "Tanner's Creek Public School N. 4 Col; Board - Jno. A. Lester, Chairman, B. F. Cartwright, Secretary, A. D. Philpotts; Jno. T. West, Division Superintendent; Chas. F. Harper, General Contractor; W. T. Zepp, Architect."

The first addition is a slightly larger building with similar characteristics adjoined to the south of the original building by an ell. The ell has a double-leaf, wood door on its east elevation framed by a semi-circular soldier-course, brick arch, with common-bond brick above the door. On the second story, above the door, is a window opening with a cast-concrete sill. The window has been partially filled with brick leaving a smaller opening. The original opening is surmounted by a soldier-and-rowlock-course flat arch. The ell continues the wood box cornice above its second story windows. The ell has a side gable roof that joins the two buildings. There is a large roof vent on the roof ridge.

In the south addition, the classrooms are articulated on the exterior by wide window openings flanked by single windows for each classroom on the east and west elevations. The windows have been replaced with metal louvered windows and partially bricked, but feature flat arches and stone sills, similar to those found on the original building. This building has a wood, box cornice, which is also similar to the original. The roof is also hipped, but there are four massive chimneys on the east and west slopes of the roof, near the north slope. On the roof ridge are three, smallish, evenly spaced roof vents. They have metal caps and the two east chimneys have been partially built up. A two-story stair tower projects from the south elevation and is capped with a hipped roof Double leaf doors access the stair tower on the first story on the east and west elevations. There are windows on the first and second stories on the south elevation of the stair tower.

On the west side of the buildings is a cafeteria wing, which is a one-story brick, rectangular building with a flat roof It is connected to the ell between the other two buildings. There is a large brick chimney on the west elevation of the cafeteria. Windows adorn the south and north elevations and consist of a group of 12 metal awning windows. There is a stoop on the west elevation on the south comer sheltering a single-leaf, metal dooi. Also on the west elevation, at the north corner, is a poured-concrete porch sheltering a metal, double-leaf door.

The music room was added c. 1960 and is a simple one-story, rectangularly planned, concrete-block building. It has a flat room and small window openings with rowlock-course brick sills. There is a single leaf entrance on the east side, which is sheltered by a corrugated metal canopy. The canopy extends from the music room entrance east to a double leaf entrance on the west side of the cafeteria.


The central entrance of the original building leads into a hall, oriented east-west, with a double return stair at the west end. A narrow central corridor extends north and south from the east-west hall, at the center of the building. There are classrooms located to the east and west of the north-south hall. The south portion of the east-west corridor has a large classroom on either side, and the north corridor has smaller offices and administrative rooms. The second floor has large classrooms in all four comers and a smaller room in the east end of the east-west hall above the east entrance.

The doors are four-panel, wood and are surmounted by 2-light transoms. Chalkboards have been mounted on two walls of each classroom with built-in chalk trays. Some original slate remains in one of the chalkboards. The floors have been treated with linoleum tile and drop ceilings have been added. The walls and ceilings are original plaster and there is beaded-board wainscoting in the hallway. The double return stair has turned wood balusters, wood handrail, wood treads, and wood paneled newels. Flanking the stair on the first story are two door openings, which access a small hall. This hall is the width of the double return stair and accesses two single leaf doors on the west elevation of the original school.

From the original north-south hall, there is a door opening on the south end accessing the ell. The ell consists of a hall oriented east-west. On the first story, this hall accesses the cafeteria addition to the west, and there is a stair at the west end also. On the east end of this hall is a double-leaf entrance, found on the facade.

South of the east-west hall in the ell is access to the south addition. There is an opening approximately opposite the opening to the original building. The wide central corridor in the addition is oriented north-south with three large classrooms to the east and west. The first and second floors have identical configurations.

Original elements in the 1913 addition classrooms include built in cabinetry shelves and storage spaces. Storage spaces are also found in the hall. There are wood doors accessing each classroom. They have two wood panels under six lights and are surmounted by transoms.