LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
OLD USE: Elementary school
NEW USE: Museum
Designed by Los Angeles architect Norman Marsh, the Monroe School opened to elementary grade students in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1913. Due to Phoenix’s urban sprawl, the population in downtown decreased significantly as residents moved further and further away from the center. With a shrinking downtown resident base to serve, the School District closed the building in 1972. It was later remodeled by the Department of Defense and used as a recruiting center.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix, originally founded in 1998 as the Phoenix Family Museum, is dedicated to the concept that learning is a joy. With a mission to engage the minds, muscles and imaginations of children and the grown-ups who care about them, the group provided a traveling exhibit program (Museum Without Walls) for its first ten years while they created a permanent home at the Monroe School.
In support of the museum’s intentions and role within the community, Phoenix residents approved $10.5 million in bond funds in 2001 to purchase and renovate the Monroe School into the new Children’s Museum of Phoenix. In addition to the bond funds, the Museum also launched the Childhood Dreams Built By You capital campaign to raise an additional $12.3 million in funding. The adaptive reuse project started in 2006 and was completed with doors opening in June 2008.
The Monroe School is now alive and active with children once again. Once a venue for structured learning, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix provides a more free-form and interactive method for kids and their parents to learn and play. While the original school may have closed due to a shrinking downtown population, the Museum has been successful in drawing in people from all over the Phoenix area as well as the new residential base that has resurfaced in downtown.
Images courtesy of Children’s Museum of Phoenix.