Alice M. Carmalt School - 1937

Carmalt Elementary - 1937.

This is a photo of Carmalt Elementary School, located on the high ground along Breining Street, shortly before it opened for the first school year in August 1937. Although located on the western border of Overbrook, the school has served East Brookline students from Ward 32 since it's inception.

Building a new school became a necessity in the mid-1920s when development of the East Brookline area brought a large influx of families into the Overbrook school system. The location was chosen to better serve those students from that growing area and also relieve over-crowding at Overbrook and Brookline Elementary School.

In December 1931, the school board appropriated $560,000 for the construction of the school, which was to take place in two units. The first, estimated to cost $200,000, would consist of twelve classrooms. The second unit, estimated at $360,000, would include a gymnasium, play rooms and five additional classrooms. Forty-five percent of this funding was provided by federal Public Works Administration grants. The contract for Unit 1 construction was awarded to the Miller Company, who completed the project at a cost of $148,955.

Carmalt Elementary - 1960.
Carmalt School in April 1960.

Interesting complications that arose during the construction of the school involved both coal and union labor. The first development was the presence of about 15,000 tons of coal, located 200 feet below the school's foundation and owned by the Pittsburgh Coal Company. In order to assure that the coal would not be mined, which could threaten the stability of the building, the school board had to pay $5390, thirty-six cents per ton, for the rights to the coal.

The second development involved the rules for federal Public Works Administration funded construction projects. Laborers for such projects were hired from relief rolls, excluding a large number of union men. A three month labor strike in early 1936 forced a halt to several regional school projects, including Carmalt. The strike ended when the government amended the hiring rules for PWA projects to include additional union men.

Breining Street, looking from Eben towards Carmalt School - 1944.    Breining Street, looking from Eben towards Carmalt School - 1953.
One of the challenges facing students walking to Carmalt School was the condition of Breining Street.
Shown here in 1944 (left) and 1953, parents lobbied the city for almost twenty years to
have the street widened and paved. The roadway was improved in 1956.

The proposed second unit was put on hold indefinitely, and those plans sat idle for thirty-six years until 1973. The city's school desegregation plans and the closing of nearby Fairview Elementary necessitated an addition be made to Carmalt, larger than originally anticipated.

Built at a cost of $5.5 million, this new wing was almost ten times the size of the existing school, increasing the enrollment capacity from 200 to 1000 students. Other additions included a gymnasium, outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts and a baseball field.

Carmalt Elementary - 2014.
Carmalt School in the spring of 2014.

Now known as Carmalt Academy of Science and Technology, the eighty-plus year old school is one of the city's premier public education facilities, a magnet school that attracts students from all over the city of Pittsburgh, including a large population of Brookline kids.

The school was named for Dr. Alice M. Carmalt, a Harvard graduate and long-time elementary school educator, who was of the original appointees on the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. Alice Carmalt passed away in 1931.

Carmalt Elementary - 2019.
An aerial view of the Carmalt campus in the summer of 2019.

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