Decatur High School Renovation Would Remove Distinctive “Spaceship” from Entrance

UPDATE: Here’s the link courtesy of GBK Gwyneth!

Diane sends along this blurb, which doesn’t seem to be online, from the Saturday AJC

Decatur school board chairman Marc Wisniewski said the board reviewed plans for additional classrooms at Renfroe Middle and Decatur High during a recent work session, adding that “everything is conceptual at this point.” The Decatur High plans call for a classroom building in front, thus removing the distinctive circular library, often called “the spaceship.” An enlarged cafeteria and new gym would be built in back, with construction coming in phases through 2018. Plans will be presented on Feb. 5.
Bill Banks for the AJC
Photo courtesy of wardomatic via Flickr

29 thoughts on “Decatur High School Renovation Would Remove Distinctive “Spaceship” from Entrance”


  1. Should have hardcopy in recycling at home and will have to read it.

    Anyway, no emotional attachment to the concrete spaceship for me. It gives off the appearance of squatting and being about to squash whoever is beneath it. But is a new media center mentioned in addition to a gym and expanded cafeteria? The current one inhabits the targeted spaceship. Hope lots of teacher, media specialist, parent, and student input is gathered in designing the new media center. It will be a unique opportunity to get what students really need in a media center in this millenium. I don’t get the sense that current students hang out in or use the current one a lot.

  2. And what is the deal with the doublewide ‘learning cottage’ they just planted in back of the high school?

  3. I like the spaceship- it is very iconic. But I agree, better to have a modern facility than a relic. Great news. I hope the cafeteria has space for kitchen prep to expand healthy eating options.

    1. My main recollection of attending meetings in the 1980s/90s as a parent in the spaceship/library is one of always being too cold or hot. Don’t think the library, at that time anyway, was very well insulated — or maybe it just had a woefully inadequate HVAC setup.

  4. NOOOOO! I guess they didn’t see my Decatur Metro post about chaining myself to the pillars… Must Decatur follow on the heels of Atlanta and tear down its distinctive architecture? Perhaps the Decatur High folks could step across the street and have William Carpenter talk to them about the coolness of Mid-Century Modern architecture? If that structure is razed, the rest of the exterior of Decatur High (where my child will be in 3 years) is, um, underwhelming.

    1. I imagine DHS students, grads, and staff are attached to the iconic front structure, although I am underimpressed with the imagery myself. And no question that the rest of DHS is underwhelming in terms of iconic imagery. Even the new structures are Faux Collegiate Brick as many have described FAVE. (Although I claim that FAVE is Faux Prairie roof on top of Faux Collegiate Brick.) But maybe a good architect could design the replacement classroom wing so that it is reminiscent of the original spaceship style without actually being a massive piece of concrete. Personally, I’d be fine with a massive City of Decatur logo mural on the front of the high school. Or a supertall flag pole with a huge DHS flag. Or some other relatively cheap DHS icon. I’m more into what’s inside the school, especially the human elements, than how the school looks. Even repainted, RMS has a juvenile prison cinder-block look to it but the energy, warmth, and supportive “scaffolding” within offsets the drab architecture.

    1. Heck of a good question. The new gym building has both a huge gym and exercise rooms. Maybe another gym is needed for non-basketball activities? E.g. regular PE classes and sports, volleyball, whatever. Maybe the capacity of the new building is already inadequate given the student bulge rapidly moving up through the grades? Maybe that’s a typo and the article was really supposed to say cafeteria and media center? I do remember the original planning for the high school renovation that led to the new gym/theater building, and someone having to raise their hand and say, “Clearly we need a new gym and field, but let’s remember that we need new science labs too….”

        1. So we need a new gym, why? Or is that a misprint? I would think we’d need a new media center since that’s what is being replaced by new classrooms.

          1. Oh, I don’t know if you need a new gym or not. Just posting pics to support your point that it’s a more than adequate gym. Absent some compelling and as-yet unknown justification, it would seem quite odd and wasteful to build a new gym just 3 years after getting the current beauty.

  5. The great spaceship may not be a thing of beauty but it does have architectural significance and it is distinctive. For space reasons, no pun intended, its removal may be needed. Let’s hope this near term fix helps in the long run – or will City of Decatur look to the old DeVry campus for a new high school at a later date??

  6. Bring back the “old” DHS — the two buildings (originally for separate boys and girls classes) flanking the gym, that were there until the spaceship went up next door in the early ’60s. 🙂

    1. I graduated in 65 and the spaceship building opened the next year. Some of us pre-spaceship DHS folk still live!

      1. Those old buildings where “historic.” My mom and aunt graduated from there. I got my oral polio vaccine in the gym. How could they tear it down?!

  7. Scroll down:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/county-by-county-news-for-saturday/nTtDD/

    Plans for additional classrooms confirmed
    Decatur school board chairman Marc Wisniewski said the board reviewed plans for additional classrooms at Renfroe Middle and Decatur High during a recent work session, adding that “everything is conceptual at this point.” The Decatur High plans call for a classroom building in front, thus removing the distinctive circular library, often called “the spaceship.” An enlarged cafeteria and new gym would be built in back, with construction coming in phases through 2018. Plans will be presented on Feb. 5.

  8. I will miss the original spaceship library (this is the first time I’ve seen this phrase) for a number of reasons, mostly personal. I hope the new addition incorporates some of the original design, maybe curved walls and large glass upper wall space to allow light, and a geometric dome (OK, getting carried away with a 60s vibe). Not sure what they will do with the Washington and Oglethorpe plaques or the scores of Confederate dead (supposedly) buried in front of the school but we will see. In the meantime, make sure you get plenty of pictures of Ms. Riley, Ms. Newman, and Ms. Nolan’s offices. Our students today have a lot of love for those girls. Soon it will be only a fading memory. Thank goodness the famous “Wall of Love”, the benches, and the sundial survives.

    1. I personally hope that if they do tear it down, it is not recreated but replaced with something more fitting for the times. The spaceship is great in a mid-century modern way but it is not the ’60s anymore!

      1. Yeah, and let’s demolish the historic DeKalb Courthouse and most of downtown Decatur too – it’s not the early twentieth century anymore!

  9. I’m guessing a new “auxiliary” gym would be necessary to accommodate the growing number of P.E. classes, not to replace the new “main” gym. Can a school representative verify?

    I hope the new “front door” design will harken back to the look of the school prior to the spaceship. That is, old school, excuse the pun, similar to Oakhurst or Glennwood schools.

    1. Thanks WB. This is a great idea. Both the north and south buildings had distinctive front entrances, especially the north building, the old Boys High.

  10. I’m heartsick over this. I understand the need for more space, but surely there’s a better way than tearing down a unique structure. I know a Neil Reid building was just demolished in Atlanta, and a unique Robert Green home just north of Atlanta went last year.
    Surely we can do better.

  11. As a grad, I’ll miss the spaceship and how distinct it was, but I understand the need to do something else with the real estate. I do hope that the new design retains the large outside covered area (which was a blessing when it rained) and something distinctive that makes it (and Decatur) special.

    DHS shouldn’t be subject to a fad.

  12. I also am a graduate of DHS. I was Class of ’66. We used the same gym for P E and basketball. Is this not allowed anymore? I hate it that the DHS I used to know will seem to be only a memory. I don’t believe any of my classmates thought of it as a spaceship! I for one miss the old DHS ! Thanks for the memories!

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