Sierra 2 Center / Highland Park School / Sierra Elementray School

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As the population of Sacramento grew so did its need for more public schools. 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 bond issue in the same year.

To carry out the design and oversee the construction of these buildings the Board requested bids from architectural firms.  Initially a San Francisco firm, Shea and Lofquist, was selected, but subsequently withdrew due to delays in selling the bonds. Thirteen proposals were then considered and, following the advice of the Civic Architecture League, the School Board accepted three bids from local architectural firms requesting that they form an “Architectural and Engineering Commission.” The architects selected were EC Hemmings, Jans Peterson and George Hudnutt. The three firms agreed to the Boards proposal, incorporating as Hemmings, Peterson and Hudnutt.

After some conflicts over the site of the originally named Highland Park School, design began in earnest April 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.

Mid-way through the construction of the now named Sierra School in March, 1922, the School Board entered into an agreement transferring the architectural contract from the Architectural and Engineering Commission to the new firm of Dean and Dean.

The Architectural and Engineering Commission asked for a release from their contract with the Board of Education 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 Deans alone were then responsible for the design and construction of the additional classroom wing in 1923 and the addition of the auditorium in 1929.The auditorium was later designated an historic landmark.

The school is now known as the Sierra 2 Center and is a community center serving the Curtis Park neighborhood of Sacramento.

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Posted: January 8, 1922

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Category: E.C. Hemmings

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