Click to preview Cleveland High School photo book

I graduated from Cleveland High School in 1964. My parents graduated in the 1920's. The school was a fixture in south Saint Louis since it was built in 1915. Due to the loss of funds the school board of Saint Louis closed the school in 2006, moving the current students to another building. Since that time the building has remained closed.
In 2009 I photographed the interior of the building with the help of then Alderwoman Dorothy Kerner, John Chen from The Alliance to Save Cleveland High and the building engineer Robert Jackson. From January to May I made day long excursions to photograph what remains of this once beautiful building. Time and broken water pipes have taken their toll, but some rooms seem as if the students and faculty have just left, and are planning to return tomorrow. In other rooms, items abandoned in the move created surreal tableaus.
In the fall of 2009 I returned to the building. There was much more vandalism and graffiti than I saw in the spring. A thick layer of dust coats the floor and mold & standing water is pervasive in many classrooms in the basement and in some on the first floor. Someone has broken into a trophy case and has scattered broken trophies across the floor. Toilet paper now decorates the gym. I've included pictures from the fall trips here as well, and I've noted them with a small asterisk * on the corner of the page.
It is sad to see such a noble building, a landmark on the south side of the city, abandoned and in such disrepair. I hate to think that such an institution, with it's 90 year history of educational service, is being allowed to die of neglect. However, I've seen buildings in much worse condition brought back to use. All it takes is a will to search for workable solutions.
I wonder if the citizens of the city, and the school board have such a will.


About the Author

Dan Younger
artstuff St. Louis, MO

DAN YOUNGER is a professor of photography in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A photographer, illustrator, and graphic designer, he earned an M.F.A. and M.A. in art photography from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa and B.F.A. in printmaking from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. His extensive work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and appears in numerous permanent public collections including The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; The Minnesota Art Institute, Minneapolis, MN and U.S. Embassies in Sydney, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; and Santiago, Chile

You can see the interior pages of each book at

Publish Date  October 20, 2009

Dimensions  Standard Landscape  158 pgs   Standard Paper

Category  Fine Art Photography

Tags  , , , , , ,

Comments (6) Write a comment


doylehbeck says

sorry i have not read ur entire book just yet but i also attened cleveland high in 1984 i was just a freshman did not get to finish there that was the real clevelands last year the school board claimed it to need to much repair to stay open so they reasigned all of us to southwest high and still kept cleveland open as ROTC until its close in 2006 im just sad i didnt get to finish at cleveland i loved my school and its sad to see it in that condition so what im saying is shame on the school board they knew in 1984 it was in bad shape that was thier excuse for closeing it and yet kept it open till 2006 as ROTC without doing any work to that wonderful building yes the city needs to revive cleveland it is a wonderful structure and a big part of st. louis history

posted at 10:12am Sep 16 PST


21166 says

I was the last class to Graduate in 84 as a true Dutchman and it was a beautiful school inside and out. I loved getting off the Bi State Bus and making the walk to the Castle, it stood broad and show case. I took my kids at night to show were their parents met and they could not believe how massive of a building could get away in time. The book caught views of art that as teens we didn't.

posted at 02:33pm Feb 01 PST


acorniv says

Terrific photos - very beautiful, even though the whole thing is so tragic.

My grandfather was the football coach and English teacher when your parents went there, and my father and his four sibs all graduated from Cleveland in the 30's and 40's. As you can imagine, I've heard about Cleveland High my whole life. I recently saw the outside for the first time when we drove through St Louis, and was excited to find this site, and be able to see the inside too. What a stunning building. It is hard to believe that the school and indeed, the beautiful surrounding neighborhood, were allowed to slide downhill.

Thanks very much.

posted at 09:48pm Aug 28 PST


molnar57 says

So very sad, this is just what my buddy and fellow alum Charlie and I saw first hand during a spring open house held by the group trying to save "The Castle" The damage to the basement level girls side or North end of the building was the worst with black mold growing on the walls. The rear small stairwells near the gyms had a lot of water damage as well. Surprising though, some areas were in good shape. Just a lot of trash and items left over when the building was closed. The "Aud' was in very good shape. As it is right now the building could probably be saved. It would be such a shame to see a place filled with so much South Side history and memories just wither away into ruin.

posted at 04:16pm Dec 11 PST


plzimm says

Dan - This book is very beautiful and provocative. Being an alumni myself made it a very emotional trip down memory lane as I perused it. Thanks for your hard work on this project.

posted at 02:43pm Nov 15 PST


jgehrt says

Great Work! I loved the theme and your vision. I can almost here the voices echoing down the halls. Thank you for sharing.

posted at 09:37am Oct 21 PST

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