Tuesday, April 7, 2020

When Lyon High School Was Built, 1929

Excitement was running high in 1929 as the new two-story brick high school building was nearing completion on Jefferson Avenue. This was not the building being used by the school board administrative office now, that one was built in 1913.

This was the one on the site of where William Pitcher Junior High today, the one that burned down in 1974. Many of us today attended school there, graduated from there, and remember its hallways, classrooms and gymnasium.

The new school was to be named Lyon High, in honor of Superintendent Elmer E. Lyon. The older brick building was to be used for grammar school grades. 

On May 25, 1929, the St. Tammany Farmer ran an extensive article describing the new building and its modern features. Considering that only a few decades earlier all schools were independent community-based one or two room frame buildings, the fact that Covington was going to have two two-story brick buildings for educational activities was quite a feather in local citizens' caps. 

The parishwide school system itself wasn't organized until 1901, so considerable progress had been made by 1929. The school was quite ahead of its time in many respects. 

Here's the text of the article that appeared in the Farmer.

May 25, 1929

 Contractors Now Putting On Final Touches And Soon Deliver To Board   


Detailed Description Of The Building Is Furnished By Superintendent Lyon 

The magnificent new Lyon High School in Covington is now nearing completion and within a few weeks the contractors, G. L. , Whitaker & Son, will turn the building over to the school for formal acceptance.

This handsome new structure is the result of the consolidation of Wards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 into Consolidated School District No. 1. High school students from these wards will be entitled to all the benefits this fine new school has to offer, and these benefits are second to none in the state.

A representative of The Farmer visited our new high school recently and found the building nearing completion. This building, when finished will have twenty classrooms four rooms given up entirely to steel, lockers in which students will lock their hats, books, dinner boxes or anything of that nature. Besides regular classrooms and locker rooms,  there is a large room for manual training, a manual training teacher's office and a room for mechanical drawing.

Each floor has three sanitary bubbler drinking fountains. On the ground floor there are twp toilet rooms for boys and two for girls. One of these is connected with a shower bathroom, five for boys and three for girls. The boy's shower bathroom is connected with a dressing room containing fifty-two steel lockers. . The girls' dressing room has sixty-four lockers. The toilets and shower baths are finished with tile floors and white ivory tiles walls.

On the right wing of the second floor is located the infirmary, or doctor's office. This room will be given up entirely  for physical examinations. A private toilet and dressing room is connected with this office. The room will be, equipped with an electric water heater to heat water for sterilizing purposes, also a doctors reclining chair, white steel cabinets on the wall containing such articles as bandages, medicated cotton, toothache drops, liniment ,and other first-aid equipment. . Besides the steel lockers located in the locker rooms there will be 141 recessed or built-in lockers in the halls or corridors.

The study hall is more than twice the size of the old study hall and will seat somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred pupils.


The chemical and physical laboratories occupy the first front half of the entire length of the old building, and they are separated by apparatus and darkrooms. The chemical laboratory will have a case containing equipment for biological science and four-student chemistry tables sufficient to accommodate a class of thirty.   

The physics laboratory will contain fifteen two-student physics tables with swinging chairs attached so arranged that all of the students will face he instructor's desk at the end of the room.

Commercial and Banking Department

The commercial and banking department in the left wing of the second story and will be thoroughly equipped for bookkeeping, shorthand, typewriting and banking.

Our representative learned from Superintendent Lyon that the plan so far would encourage the students to start savings accounts and each individual account must be kept by the banking department and all funds raised for the athletic association, entertainments, box parties, candy sales, etc., must go through through this banking department. Of course the actual cash will be deposited in the banks of the town.

Home Economics

This department consists of the sewing room, fitting room, cooking laboratory, dining room, bathroom and bedroom. The sewing room is especially well provided with light and ventilation. Two large skylights and the regular windows besides breeze windows on the hall or corridor side and also breeze window leading into the gymnasium leaves nothing to want in these two respects.

From the bedroom there is a built-in wardrobe and in the bathroom a built-in linen closet, each equipped with the proper shelves. The floor and walls of the bathroom are finished with tile and as good as any residence. The bathroom and dining room will be equipped with the usual modern equipment for such rooms.

In the cooking laboratory are four double-drainboard white porcelain sinks. There will be five or more of the usual cooking tables each provided with an electrical hot-plate and besides an electric stove will be placed along the wall. Running hot water in each of the sinks is provided by an oil-burning water heater. This heater is of modern type and approved by the Fire Prevention bureau. 

In the Sewing room we forgot to mention the built-in ironing board with electric iron, the built-in book-case in the corner of the room, the display case at the end of the fitting room with light from a skylight where dresses may be tried on and fitted. In another room opening out of the sewing room are cases with cabinets for the unfinished sewing to be kept from day to day.

In the cooking laboratory one entire side of this room is taken up with cabinets for groceries, brooms, and mops, etc.


In the end of the left wing on the first floor may be found the cafeteria. The main dining room of the cafeteria will seat in the neighborhood of 150, and adjoining this is the large and spacious kitchen where hot meals will be prepared for children coming from out of town.

Principal's Office

The principal's office will be on the left of the main entrance in the space which was occupied as the dining room, and opening out of that will be a large room used for teachers' rest room and student council activities.

Boiler Room

The boiler room has been very much increased in size until it now occupies the space originally given up to the old boiler room, the boy's shower bath room and the principal's office and waiting room.   


One must see in order to appreciate the gymnasium and all of its possibilities. It is 114 feet long by 56 feet wide. Around the entire room is a gallery eight feet wide and on the outer edge of this gallery an 'iron' railing. Leading to the gallery are two pairs of stairways at each end of the building. It is expected that the gymnasium will be thoroughly well equipped with the principal modern and up-to-date gymnasium apparatus.

Two practice courts for basket ball will run crosswise the room, and one for match games will run lengthwise. Every  possible care is being taken in the preparation of the floor. It is made up of the following: Four inches of cement at the bottom. On top of this is two inches of cinders and cement in which are placed 2x2 creosoted strips.

Over these creosoted strips will be two layers of felt paper and on this paper will be laid one of the most beautiful maple floors to be seen. This floor will be treated with the best preparations known to the trade after it has been thoroughly smoothed by a sanding machine.

We are told by Superintendent Lyon that the four floors in the' home economics department will be sanded, oiled and waxed, and that part of the training to be given to the girls of the domestic science course will be that of keeping these floors well waxed and polished.
The outside front view shows a two-story building 224 feet long instead of the old building 117 feet long. Over the main entrance is the large tower in which will be placed the clock and chimes to be donated by our fellow-townsman, John Haller, in memory of his father and mother.

Other Buildings

Directly back of the main building may be found the new teachers' home which will accommodate ten teachers besides servants room. This building is thoroughly well equipped by the school board; provided with sanitary plumbing and running hot and cold water in both kitchen and bathroom. 

This building has been occupied this year by five teachers who speak in the loudest terms of this plan of accommodation. They have had their own telephone and radio outfit. On the other quarter of the square are two small cottages to be rented to people not connected with the school, and just back and beyond these three cottages comes the large and beautiful athletic field, 600 feet long and 300 feet wide.

The grading of this field has just been completed by Eugene Esquinance & Son,. and all who are interested may feel highly proud of it. In fact, we do not hesitate in stating that we doubt if there  is any high school in a town of this size with a better school plant than our Consolidated School District No. 1 will have when we take into consideration the main building with its gymnasium, manual training room, commercial department, home economics department; cafeteria, library, study hall, laboratories, etc., and, speaking of library, we forgot to mention the large library with bookshelves on two sides of the room to be found in the right wing of the second story. This room will seat some forty-odd pupils, and will be thoroughly equipped with modern furniture found in up-to-date libraries.

St. Tammany Farmer
May 25, 1929

Although the new school built in 1929 was called "Lyon High" after Superintendent Elmer E. Lyon, the name had to be changed not long afterwards because the state passed a law that said public buildings could not be named after persons still living. So it was changed to Covington High School.

Later another school, an elementary school, was named Lyon Elementary to honor the parish's first Superintendent. 

There was a special legislative exemption to the Living Person/Public Structure law when Covington was successful in naming its new football stadium Jack Salter Stadium in honor of high school coaching legend Jack Salter. 

See also:
Covington High School Hit By Fire - 1974