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Concordia Lutheran High School – 1984
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
Public elementary schools were mandated for the first time by the State of Indiana in 1852. When Lutheran Churches were organized, they in turn also generally developed elementary education programs as well. However, secondary education, or high schools, lagged behind elementary opportunities. In 1916, the local Lutheran Churches opened Luther Institute in shared church space. This two-year secondary program was essentially a business preparatory school teaching basic office skills including typing, shorthand, spelling, etc., in addition to business law and Bible study. They then built a large three-story limestone trimmed brick building in 1924-25 that stood at the southwest corner of Barr and Washington (razed in 2006 it is now a parking lot for St. Paul’s). To put the city’s 1920’s secondary education into perspective, at the time the only two public high schools were Central (1903) and the new South Side High School (1922).
Looking to expand local Lutheran secondary education offerings further, in the fall of 1935 the four-year Concordia Lutheran High School (CLHS) including the former Luther Institute classes, opened on the grounds of Concordia College along East Washington. The new high school at first occupied one of the college’s excess buildings (Hanser Hall) but as the school’s popularity rose, it was decided to build a new building. Land from the college was secured and the new $600,000 school opened in the fall of 1952 at the northwest corner of Maumee and Anthony. This building (along with all the former college’s grounds) has since been sold and is IndianaTech’s Cunningham Business Center.
Still yet, the growing high school was in need of additional space which resulted in the purchase of the old Zollner Stadium and its 23 acres on North Anthony in 1958 followed by another eight acre purchase on the west side of Anthony (where the school sits today). Designed by local architect James Sherbondy, the new CLHS home to the Cadets was dedicated on January 5, 1964. An expansion of the school began in 1973 that included a music wing, classrooms, chapel-auditorium and other spaces. A number of continued expansions and upgrade projects have taken place since including the rebuilding of Zollner Stadium. Today, including 7.55 acres along Crescent Avenue (donated by Fred Zollner), and the donated 4.5 acre “Our Creators Classroom” nature area just north of the school, CLHS encompasses about 40 acres.
In 2015 a committee was formed to look at what the schools optimum enrollment should be in 10-15 years with the resulting recommendation being 1,050 students (currently there are 745). A Space and Site committee was then tasked to research and develop options for achieving the goal, if possible, within the current facilities. In the interim, an offer to donate 55 acres of land at the corner of Union Chapel & Diebold Roads near Parkview North to build a brand new school and athletic facilities has been made and is being considered. The board expects to make a decision on the school’s future by the end of 2018.
(This postcard image taken in 1984 was a gift to the school from the class of 1934. Courtesy ACPL)
A tip of the hat to Ashley Wiehe/CLHS.
Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian/author and the architecture/history guide for FortWayneFoodTours.com