Kelvin High School was first built between 1910 and 1912 right along Academy Road. The houses of River Heights came quickly after.
The first Kelvin was named Kelvin Technical High School and was designed by provincial architect J.B. Mitchell. It was constructed for a total of $265,000 and stood four floors. Tyndall stone and Leary red brick was used for the materials. Much of River Heights was empty in 1912 but by 1922 an addition J.N. Semmens needed to be added as the neighboorhood was surging following World War I.
Kelvin had an identical twin school built on Machray Avenue in St. John’s Technical High School. The rules on naming back then was alternating between British lords and saints. Hence, Kelvin and St. John’s.
The name Kelvin presumably fit a technical school as Lord Kelvin also known as Sir William Thomson was a brilliant mathematician and physicist. Today he is best known for the absolute temperature scale or Kelvin Scale. He never visited his namesake school as he died in 1907 but he did come to Canada a number of times.
The school would stand through two World Wars and lose many students to the conflicts. 55 of 527 died in WWI and 225 died of 2,640 in WWII. They were honoured on a wall within the old school.
By the 1950s, the school began to fall into disrepair. The center town had to be removed because it was unstable in 1957. Eventually the building was literally falling apart in a post-war baby boom.
A huge need for additional classroom space led to an expansion in 1963. By 1964, an entire new building for the whole school was under construction along Kingsway for around $1.4 million. The new school was ready to go in 1965 and the old school was knocked down in 1965 and is the present track and soccer field.
Kelvin officially became know as Kelvin High School in 1965. The school had always been a grade 10 to 12 school but in 1995 the school added grade 9 students. Special education and physical disabilities requirements saw elevators added and in 2002, two art rooms, two classrooms and a computer lab were built out toward Stafford Street.
The staff parking lot has grown as the faculty has grown and many students drive now so almost every street nearby has cars parked on it with kids running out to change spots as time runs out. Parking patrols make quick work of the heedless.
The new addition in 2002 used traditional red brick and modern dark windows. I have never been a fan of the yellow frames on the rest of the school. They always seemed out of date even in the 1970s.
The latest addition will be a new gym to accommodate the increased number of students.
In 2015, the new Kelvin building will be 50 years old. The new gym addition is probably not the last change we see to the school. Hope they start with taking out the yellow panel windows.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations