Coloma Community Center / Elmhurst Elementary / Coloma Elementary School

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The need for more, larger, and better school facilities was a citywide problem during the second decade of the twentieth century, as Sacramento’s population grew rapidly.

The Board of Education in Sacramento presented to the city’s voters a $2 million bond issue in 1919, for the construction of several new elementary schools. The voters approved the bonds on October 18 of that year.

The Board then appointed an Architectural and Engineering Commission, early in 1920, to plan, design, and oversee the construction of the new elementary schools. The Commission consisted of the architects Edward Hemmings and Jens Petersen, and the structural engineer George Hudnutt. It appears that the three men collaborated only on this school commission, as they are listed under the firm name of Hemmings, Petersen, Hudnutt – Architectural and Engineering Commission in Sacramento city directories only in 1921. The Architectural and Engineering Commission was charged by the Board not only with design and construction oversight for the new buildings, typical responsibilities for an architectural commission, but also for assessing the district’s needs and proposing to the Board the optimum number, locations, and sizes of the new schools to be built with the bond funds. Their fee was to be 4-1/2 percent of the construction costs.

After a three-month study, the Commission presented its proposal for the locations and sizes of several new elementary schools on April 20, 1920. The proposal included construction of a new school in the Elmhurst neighborhood. The two-story west wing was the original school building associated with the Commission which at first was named Elmhurst Elementary and later changed to Coloma Elementary School.  The school consisted of four classrooms on each floor and was completed in August of 1921. During this time James Dean joined the Commission and acted as its chief deputy, with responsibility for the design of the future school buildings and overall management of the projects. Hemmings, Petersen, and Hudnutt asked for a release from their contract with the Board of Education in March of 1922, stating that they were not able to complete the commission profitably based on the previously agreed fee of 4-1/2 percent of the construction cost. The schools commission was then turned over to the newly formed architectural firm of Dean and Dean.

The firm of Dean and Dean is mostly associated with this facility mainly through having designed and completed the additions to the school in 1923 and 1929. Dean and Dean went on to complete the other schools the commission had presented in the study but at least one other (Highland Park Elem. / Sierra Elem. School) was also designed by the original Commission of Hemmings, Petersen,  and Hudnutt.

The school is now known as the Coloma Center which acts as a community center serving the Elmhurst neighborhood of Sacramento.


Posted: January 8, 1921


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