The 1950’s began the next major phase in the life of the parish. For one, the population in West Akron was growing considerably. The number of students in the school was beginning to demand more space. This year would see the foundation of the convent laid. It would eventually house more nuns than their temporary quarters in the school, space that was needed since more students would require more teachers. Their living space on the top floor of the school would now be turned into additional classroom space allowing the school to expand without having to build.
It must have been about this time that the dream of having a parochial high school had faded, though the parish still owned property on the other side of South Hawkins Avenue. At one time the whole area west of Hawkins Avenue at the Mull intersection was envisioned by the city as a cultural center. Already located not too far from this location was Good Park Golf Course. Known as being among the finest municipal golf courses in the United States, the 18-hole J. Edward Good Course, designed by Bertie Way, opened in 1926, two years before the parish was founded.
The vision for the rest of the area was much different from what we see today. The plan shows gridded streets much like the rest of West Akron. Behind Byrider Hall was to be a broad parkway. All around the parish property was to be housing lots. What is now Byrider Hall would have been on a city block virtually by itself. Further, it was thought for a while that on the corner to the north, the Akron Board of Education would be built. In the late twenties there was talk of moving the University of Akron, the art museum, and the library here. This would make West Akron (then known as Maple Valley - which is why we still have Maple Valley Cleaners) an ideal spot for a Catholic high school. Then the Great Depression brought all these grand plans to a screeching halt.
By 1950 it was clear that none of this would take place. A remnant of this one time dream can be found by taking a walk in the woods behind the former Perkins Middle School. Hidden amongst the trees is a cement street sign marking the dreamed of intersection of Sunset View Blvd West and Good Park Avenue. With those dreams permanently changed, new plans for use of the parish land was formulating. It would not be until 75 years later and the closing of the public school that the possibility of creating these roads once again would be revisited.
This series is focused on the history of the parish up to when the founding pastor, Msgr. Zwislwer, dies. But there are two developments that have since taken place that seem interesting enough to put this stricture aside for the moment.
FIRST UPDATE: Last week there was the story of the ordination of Fr. Dannemiller SS at St. Sebastian Parish. As it turns out we still have Dannemillers in the area and thanks to some inquiries made by one of our industrious workers here we found out that Fr. Dannemiller eventually left the priesthood, got married, and was eventually a father Dannemiller of a different sort.
SECOND UPDATE: As it ironically turns out, the land reported above which eventual became Perkins Middle School and a number of football and baseball fields is once again being re-envisioned into a developed neighborhood. Once planned streets and housing lots are being proposed by the city to be begun sometime in the next year or two. It won't be the cultural center once proposed but families will hopefully be moving into the dream houses thought of almost a century ago.