Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Topeka High School is a study in Gothic architecture and a lesson in alumni pride.
The extravagance of the three-story brick and stone structure, credited to Topekan financier Chester Woodward’s affection for Oxford-inspired design, is all the more remarkable for having been built in Depression-era 1930 and maintained, in its grandeur, as an active public school 79 years since.
“The Topeka High School Historical Society was created to preserve and promote the heritage of the school that continues to be steeped in tradition and diversity,” says Douglas Wallace, founder and board member of the alumni group largely credited with maintaining the institution’s integrity.
The landmark Williamson Bell Tower, named for the school’s architect, Thomas Williamson, rises 165 feet as the focal centerpiece of the campus. THS is believed to be the only public high school in the world with an operating Deagan chime system.
Envy the students who pass under the Gothic arches of the main entrance that also features marble floors, stained glass and period chandeliers.
Three Kansas governors were inaugurated on the stage of the school auditorium, where 10 massive chandeliers illuminate the original opera-style seats. The barrel-vaulted mezzanine features a lead glass bay window that overlooks the Statehouse, and framed original play posters from the 1930s-1950s adorn the walls.
Famed basketball coach Dean Smith got his start in the vintage gym.
“Home and Away” premieres at 6:30 p.m. Mondays on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 and replays throughout the week.