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McClain’s Architech, William B. Ittner

The story of McClain High School is a story of a wealthy industrialist, Edward Lee McClain, and many talented people he enlisted to create his lasting gift to the community of Greenfield. One such talent was William B. Ittner, the architect. Ittner (1864-1936) was from St. Louis, Missouri and is credited with the design of more than 430 schools nationwide, 35 of which are on the National Register of Historical Places.

Mr. McClain sought out the best talent available for his project, which led him to Mr. Ittner, who by 1913 had designed more than 20 schools. No doubt the reputation of the McClain High School led to more calls, as it appears that most of the schools he designed up to that time were in Missouri. By the time the architect retired he was credited with designing schools in 28 states.

Ittner was widely known for his development of the “open-type plan” in school buildings, the majority of them being high schools and colleges. Ittner served as president of the Architectural League of America and has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. A Google search of the architect’s name leads to photos of some very impressive buildings.

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Submitted by Ron Coffey

1914 GHS Dragon

Digging through a stack of books I came across a 1914 issue of the Greenfield High School Dragon. Among the many articles was a very relevant reference to the “new” school being constructed.

“The new High School building will be fully equipped throughout with the best school furniture and the latest teaching accessories. The architect, W.B. Itter, of St. Louis, is at present engaged in drawing up the specifications for the equipment, all of which will be especially designed and built for this building.”

It is extremely interesting to compare and contrast the prose, ideas, beliefs, and style of the era marking McClain High School’s beginning with today. Everything seemed so prescribed, expected, and formal. Here’s a few other items you may find interesting.

“The attendance of the Greenfield High School was 99.5 per cent for both September and October. Four cases of tardiness occurred.”

“The Board of Education has appropriated one hundred dollars for library books. A number of the new books have already been received and have been placed on the shelves. Others have been ordered and will soon be here. Many of the new books are devoted to subjects of a practical character, such as agriculture, commerce, electricity, etc.”

“About twenty G.H.S. students attended a basket ball game in Salem Friday night, November 6th, between the Buckskin High School team and a Greenfield team. Moxie George, Ralph Iseman, Finley Arnott, Charles Davis and Paul Iseman, of the G.H.S., played on the Greenfield team. The Greenfield boys were defeated by a score of 36 to 7.”

I’ve also included a few photos of advertising form the Dragon of businesses that were still around when many of you were young.

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