Historic “Bldg A”


The Laveen School Auditorium, in the un- incorporated rural Maricopa County community of Laveen, is a one-story adobe building with a full basement. The Auditorium was constructed by the Federal Works Projects Administration (WPA) in 1940. The building is simple in its ornamentation, with elements of Craftsman style features. It is situated on the grounds of the Old Laveen School and is the only remaining building from the school’s historic period. The building retains its appearance from the historic period, and retains its historic setting in a corner of the campus somewhat removed from the more modern buildings which comprise the present Laveen Education Center complex, and Laveen Elementary School District offices.


The un-incorporated community of Laveen is a rural agricultural settlement in Maricopa County, about fifteen mites southwest of the Phoenix city center. When constructed in 1940, the Laveen School Auditorium was the third building constructed on the Laveen School campus. The original school building, constructed ca. 1908, was a one-room schoolhouse. In 1924 residents of Laveen replaced this building with an eight-room school building. Using WPA funds, Laveen residents added the auditorium to the north and west of the eight-room school building. The basement of the building served as the school’s cafeteria. After 1960, corresponding with an increase in population in the Maricopa County area, several additional classroom and ancillary buildings were constructed on the campus of the Laveen School.

The auditorium is a defining element of the northwest corner of the Laveen School campus, visible from several vantage points along Dobbins Road and 51st Avenue (this intersection forms the center of historic Laveen). It is isolated by an expanse of grass dotted with old ash trees from the rest of the campus, and thus stands apart as a lone survivor of bygone days. These old trees are considered an important part of the historic setting of the building. The immediate vicinity of the Auditorium is covered with concrete and asphalt surfaces which run to and from the building in an uncoordinated and almost haphazard manner. Although some of these sidewalks date to the period of construction as evidenced by WPA markings in the concrete, others were added later.The building is rectangular in shape, with the long axis running north/south. It is constructed of stacked adobe blocks on cast concrete stem walls. Interior and exterior surfaces are covered with cement plaster over wire lath. Condition of the foundation and walls is good with no major cracks apparent. The front elevation faces east and contains the main entrance which is interrupted by a rather inconspicuous hipped gable porch roof over the main entrance. This is the elevation that faces the campus of the Laveen School. None of the original doors survive. Replacement doors at the south and north ends are solid core wood. The main entrance door has been replaced by a single hollow metal door set in a metal frame. This main entrance originally consisted of double wood and glass doors with a glass transom above.Although only a single story of the building rises above ground level, the auditorium contains a full basement. Entrance to the basement is gained through two concrete stairwells, one each on the north and east elevations. The basement floor is a concrete slab.

The basement floorplan is punctuated by six concrete columns which support the auditorium floor above. Basement windows open to window wells which allow light into the area. The basement windows are casement units. Four of the original eight wooden casement windows have been replaced with metal casements. This change in material has had no effect on the integrity of the building as the replacement units maintain the same style as the originals. The basement ceiling consists of pressed fiberboard attached to 2×4 wood joists. A small restroom, consisting of a toilet and sink, has been constructed by taking advantage of a window well on the north elevation. This is a later modification to the building. The northwest and southeast corners of the basement have been converted to offices by the construction of partition walls, another later modification. In the southwest comer of the basement a metal cage has been constructed so that property may be locked up.

The basement originally served as the cafeteria for the school. It was converted into a shop in 1980. This resulted in the addition of dust collection equipment which still remains. The northeast corner of the basement contains a brick chimney, all that remains from the original heating system. The ground floor of the building once housed the school’s auditorium. A large stage which accounted for approximately one-third of the ground floor plan once covered the south end of the building. It was flanked by a stage arch and side walls. The stage was removed in 1980 when the ground level of the building was converted into a home economics classroom. This change resulted in retrofitting the building with additional plumbing and electrical conduits, as well as covering approximately one- quarter of the interior walls of the ground floor with prefinished wood paneling. It also resulted in the removal of a loading dock at the south end of the building which provided access to the stage door. The original wood floor of the ground level remains, although it has been covered with carpet in some areas and vinyl tile in others. The original wood beadboard ceiling also remains, although it has been covered over by suspended acoustical tile to accommodate the retrofitting of a forced air heating and cooling system. Original wood door and window frames survive and are in good condition.The building is topped with a modified-hip, gabled roof with exposed rafter ends. It is covered with diamond pattern, mineral composite board shingles. The wood- sided gable ends are modestly embellished with decorative outriggers which support overhanging bargeboards. The smooth expanse of the west elevation of the roof is broken by four hipped eyebrow dormers. These dormers work in conjunction with north and south end gable vents to allow attic venting. The main roof ridge and modified gable hips are decorated with semi- cylindrical Spanish tile. A single tall brick chimney rises from the northeast comer of the roof. Window placement is asymmetrical. The east elevation has four window openings, with the off-center main entrance flanked by one window to the south and three to the north. The west elevation has five window openings. Two windows are present at the north elevation. The south elevation has no window openings, although it does have a door which once opened to the back of the interior stage. Ground level windows are double hung wood sash, 4 over 4 light In addition to the main entrance andstage door, a third door is located on the north elevation.

Although the simple decorative elements of the building are typical of plain Depression-era government architecture, the Auditorium does contain elements of the¬†Craftsman style. The dormers, gable outriggers, bargeboards, and Spanish roof tile all represent the Craftsman style. The asymmetrical and therefore casual appearance of the building also is evidence of Craftsman influence. The massing and form of the building itself show elements of Craftsman influence, with its low hipped gable roof atop an elongated plan. The use of adobe and concrete for building materials testify to the utilitarian nature of the building’s construction history as a Depression-era WPA project that utilized economical materials available in the local area.The integrity of the Laveen School Auditorium is good. It retains its integrity from the historic period. Its immediate site and setting are essentially unchanged. The newer buildings constructed on campus are some distance from the Laveen School Auditorium. Although the building has suffered from some modifications over the years, most of which date to its 1980 conversion from an auditorium and cafeteria into a shop and home economics building, these changes are easily reversible. The building has also suffered from neglect caused by a lack of funds for maintenance in this low property tax base rural area. However, most of the deteriorated conditions can be easily remedied and do not represent the toss of any historic fabric. The building is presently used for storage. Windows have been boarded up as a security measure. Although the boarded windows detract from the present appearance of the building, the historic windows are intact. Changes to the doors, also replaced for security reasons, are easily reversible.

Source: National Register of Historic Places