A Last Look – South/Patterson School

By the time this is posted, the buildings in these photos will likely be gone. The school is scheduled to be demolished sometime in October to make way for senior housing. It’s hard to imagine Redondo without the old South/Patterson school facility, and wanting to make some final images of this place where so many of us spent our elementary school years, I contacted the Redondo Unified School District who very kindly gave me access to the grounds for a last photo shoot. These images are a few of the results. I’ll post more later as well.

Also, many thanks to the school district for their help, and to my two very able assistants and colleagues on this shoot, fellow Redondoans Craig South and Karina Vint!



Many of us from Redondo went to South School, which in the 1960s became Patterson. At first, in the early 1950s, there was the Kindergarten on Knob Hill and near it the old brown brick, three story cube that had once served south Redondo as an elementary school, in my years boarded up and derelict as the new school went up beside it in the rush to accommodate the post war boom.



The structure most of those my age remember was single story with three wings – grades 1-2 nearest the office, 3-4 in the middle, 5-6 nearest the fence on Avenue A, the whole site a cleanly modern and typical California installation with galvanized pipe supports for the covered hallways, serrated shed roofs, and high windows into the classrooms through which the movement of the pittosporum and pepper trees on the grounds, and behind them along the block’s edges the more graceful palms, could be admired. In an inviting west coast generosity, all rooms opened on to patios and lawns, and the majority of the spacious half block that made up the school grounds was given over to a large playground, big enough for two baseball diamonds and various jungle gyms, circles on the paving for dodge ball, tether ball posts, and a basketball court.



The old Kindergarten retained an eccentric, pre-war architectural mix of Spanish, Gothic and ecclesiastical elements that made it feel thick and magical in a story book sort of way. Inside, wonderful toys filled shelves under the arched windows along one side of the room, while easels, paints, chairs and napping rugs took up the other side. But in the grade 1-6 classrooms, full modernity and the embrace of progress was the rule, from the severe, attractive lettering on the office wall to the clean Bauhaus lines of the buildings and rooms. And a half block to the west, the ocean lay sparkling and sighing in its endlessness, its breezes and motions audible in the small silences of the classroom. Beyond whatever teaching did or did not occur there, whatever lapses and disappointments we went through in our movement through our time at the school, as must be, this was still a place in my memory to walk through the halls, come out on the playground, make my way home on the gray sidewalks just past the fence in the ocean’s presence, and feel a rare and quiet confidence.


Steps to the playground, Avenue A and Pacific Coast Highway