Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vanished Rochester: The RHS Bridge

When Rochester's high school students moved from the old school at the corner of Fifth & Wilcox to their brand new school at the corner of Walton & Livernois in the fall of 1956, they had to adjust to living with a very unfamiliar building layout. Architects had designed the new RHS to be expanded as future enrollment might require, with two long wings extending eastward from a center hub. If a student had a class at the end of the south wing, which extended to the gymnasium, followed by a class in the north wing, the walk was almost impossible to make through the school corridors in the allotted time between bells.

The problem was solved as the result of a 1966 bond issue which funded the addition of a swimming pool in the gymnasium complex and an auditorium adjacent to the music classrooms on the north wing. To connect the north and south wings at their eastern ends, a covered pedestrian bridge was built from the gym to the auditorium, and it was opened to students in January of 1968. The Rochester Clarion announced the happy news:
Students at Rochester High will be saving miles of walking next week when this novel bridge is expected to open, linking two distant wings of the building. The bridge connects to the two front wings and will greatly cut congestion in the present main hall. Many students now dash through the cold across the concourse to reach classes on time.
In terms of its practical use, the RHS bridge turned out to be a short-lived feature of the building. By the time that my class arrived in the halls of RHS, only five years after the bridge had been opened, it was already off limits to student traffic. The north end of the walkway was blocked off and was used to house a student store, unimaginatively named "The Bridge." The south end of the walkway was used to store chairs, dollies and other paraphernalia needed in the gym. Once again, students were dashing across the lawn in order to make it from one wing to the other before the second bell rang.

A major expansion and renovation of the high school building in 1986 enclosed the former main courtyard area to accommodate a new media center and more gymnasium space, and that construction project consigned the RHS bridge to the pages of Vanished Rochester.

This photo shows part of the bridge as it entered the gymnasium complex at the end of the south wing.


  1. They closed it because a stabbing occurred!

  2. I was in the 9th grade during the 1972-73 year, the final year the bridge was utilized. I never heard of a stabbing there, but what I remember was that the bridge was closed at the end of that year and used for library storage and was closed not only to students but staff as well.