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The Architecture Around Us – Part 3: Architects Stone & Wright

A Stone and Wright design similar to that of the Martinez Grammar School (now known as City Hall). (THE ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER)
A Stone and Wright design similar to that of the Martinez Grammar School (now known as City Hall). (THE ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER)

By KRISTIN HENDERSON
Special to the Tribune

NOTE: The following is Part 3 of several installments on Martinez City Hall.

Sssshhhhhh!!! We are in the hallowed stacks of San Francisco Public Library’s 6th floor History Room. Here we find lots about our City Hall/Grammar School building’s architects: Stone & Wright. By 1915, Stone & Wright already had a general school design that looked exactly like ours and employed it in Richmond at the Grant School.

Stone & Wright established offices in Stockton and Oakland and designed elementary and high schools throughout Northern California. A partial list is on file with the Martinez Tribune. The Homestead School in San Mateo is a Spanish/Moorish revival style. The Jefferson School in Stockton, California, was designed with Federalist characteristics, as were Corning, California, High School and Lincoln School, Richmond. Stone & Wright also modernized older schools from Empire/Victorian styles to more modern constructs.

Stone & Wright designed other types of buildings such as Stockton’s Charles Belding Building, the ten-story Commercial & Savings Bank, and the Lyric Theater. In 1927, on his own, Louis S. Stone designed the Tudor/Jacobethean Revival Style – with Spanish Revival touches – now-demolished Kindergarten Building once at 921 Susana Street. Louis S. Stone’s father was a well known teacher in San Francisco. Early in Louis S. Stone’s career he designed Oakland High School, which was the largest and most updated school at the time on the West Coast.

B.J.S. Cahill, A.I.A., wrote in the July 1915 The Architect and Engineer “Recent School Buildings designed by Stone & Wright.” In 1915, before Martinez Grammar School/City Hall was yet built, Cahill had many poignant things to say about the evolution of schools and I will leave the article at the Martinez Tribune for those interested. He said of Stone & Wright’s San Mateo and Richmond schools:

These schools are both one story high and entirely without corridors, hallways, basements, or attics. The class rooms are connected by covered courts or porches open to the air on the side and serving as play grounds in wet weather. … The central pavilions contain the assembly halls, which are supplemented with mezzanines for offices. … These halls can be connected with the school or separated for civic gatherings, at will.

Portentous words for a school that would become a city’s civic center. Tune in next time when we investigate that very transformation.

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