For the past half a century until May 21 of this year, Robert E. Lee High School was in the teaching business. But now, to quote a man named Alice, school's out forever. This expedition into abandoned Baton Rouge didn't exemplify as much decay and natural reclamation that so many vacant buildings do, but we may not have the luxury of time. The school may have a date with a wrecking ball, although that doesn't seem to happen often here. If not, I'll follow up at the end of my tenure in Baton Rouge, since it doesn't take long here for nature to take hold. But even now, it hasn't been well maintained, so it's not lacking in decay.
Meanwhile, I think the loss of Lee is not just noteworthy because it must have been a formative place for so many readers of this blog, but I think if these buildings are demolished, it's a loss to local mid-century modern architecture. It's an unusual structure in that it seems to be designed to handle massive rainwater flow issues (but maybe not very well), and it has some design flaws like the claustrophobic dead space when you're standing on the dark street-level pavilion below the single-story overhangs. Nonetheless, Lee's long, low-slung, modern lines combined with the diagonal grade of the land and the zig zag outline of the gym, are aesthetically pleasing to this day.
View from that dead space, below:
Above, just past the more distant breezeway is a small outdoor park-like area with benches. Below is the gym.