Forgotten Landmark-Rodessa High School, Rodessa (LA)

In September of 1939, this modern brick structure was built with an attached auditorium and gym.  The building, which contained twenty classrooms and was built for $195,000, housed the first high school in Rodessa.  Grades one through eleven were taught in the 33,437 square foot building.  The beginning enrollment was about 800, causing the hurried construction of temporary buildings to house classrooms for the 250 students the structure could not hold. Gladys Pitts Hendrick was named principal of the school, which at that time was the largest in the parish.  After World War II, enrollment in the schools of the area waned and necessitated a centralized facility.  The last senior class to graduate from the school did so in 1955 and the school was formally closed in 1973.

Rodessa High School was one of several Northwest Louisiana high schools designed by architect Seymour Van Os (1893-1974).  A native of New Orleans, Mr. Van Os was educated in New Orleans public schools and graduated from Tulane University in 1913 with a degree in architecture.  He worked in various architects’ offices in New Orleans and came to Shreveport as a draftsman. In association with J. Y. Snyder, he opened an office in January of 1915, and continued the practice of architecture until April of 1917 when he entered the U.S. Army.  His office was responsible for the design and construction of numerous schools in various parishes in Northwest Louisiana, as well as banks, libraries, commercial and industrial buildings and many buildings at Barksdale and England Air Force Bases.
He later accepted a reserve commission in the Corps of Engineers and was recalled to active duty as a major in December 1940, remaining on active duty for the duration of World War II. According to his son, Seymour Van Os, Jr., “He served overseas in the European Theater of Operations, then was ordered to serve overseas again to be on the American Engineering Staff of Admiral “Lord” Louis Mountbatten in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. As I recall, he had to do with some of the Military Engineering of the Ledo Road/and/or the noted Burma Road. I do recall (he) was awarded a Bronze Star Distinguished Award for excellence of his Military Engineering Planning.”  He commanded an Engineers Construction group until his retirement in 1953.
Mr. Van Os formed a partnership with T. A. Flaxman from 1939 until his retirement in 1970. He was instrumental in gathering and organizing a group of local architects into the North Louisiana branch of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. From 1952 to 1964, he served as a member of the Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners.

 

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