With Piedmont schools on their "Ski Week" break, and sunny weather was sunny, another large turnout of 31 members of the Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group showed up on February 19. The group was interested in seeing the different schools in the center of town, so off they went up High- land Avenue to Havens School. Stopping in front of the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse on the Havens campus, Dick Carter, a member of the Havens class of 1959, drew on information from Gail Lombardi's Piedmont Historical Society articles and other materials.
Piedmont experienced an in- creasing population in the early 1900s and the city was incorporated in September 1907. Piedmont's founders decided it would be wise to build two schools to serve the community. Construction of the city's first school, originally named "The Bonita Avenue School* (now Havens School), started in 1908 and opened in TIT. It quickly filled to capacity, and the "Lake Avenue School?" which later became Beach School, was built in 1913 due to the demand for more classrooms.
The Bonita Avenue School was designed by Albert Farr, as was much of the rest of central Piedmont. It had eight classrooms with eight teachers, one for each grade, and stood where the current Havens School is today. Ellen Driscoll was the first principal and taught there for 20 years. The school was renamed Frank C. Havens School in 1914 in honor of the Piedmont developer who donated the school's land.
The school was rebuilt in 1953 with a new set of classrooms for the up- per grades in a modern building facing Oakland Avenue. In 2010 the school was demolished and replaced by the current two-story school.
Walking down Bonita, the group saw that the new PHS classroom building is an inaccessible construction zone. The walkers found a pathway to the campus to gain access. The hallway of the Science building was being paint- ed, and with permission the walkers went on a self-guided tour. They went down a set of stairs to the front of the high school gym; which is named in honor of "Binks" Rawlings, father of the late Ken Rawlings, a Piedmont High 1950's grad and strong school supporter. As the group continued, they could see the back of Piedmont Middle School. The original school, Piedmont Junior High School, was built in 1924 on the same site. It had 13 classrooms, a gym, print shop and auto shop. At that time, it includes 7th, 8th and 9th grades.
The group then went down PE Hill past the middle school sport courts now used for pickleball when school is not in session. Arriving at Witter Field, the group saw athletes getting ready for their spring sports. The field was built on the site of the early 1900's Maze in Piedmont Park, and reconfigured in 1999 and 2000 as part of a major construction project that replaced the grass field and cinder track with a turf field and a hard surface track. The track was reconfigured to a legitimate quarter-mile oval. The building that houses the locker, weight, training, and coaches rooms was also constructed, along with a softball field on the old site of the Piedmont Play School, which was moved to Hampton Field.
The baseball field that was re- named to honor longtime coach Mike Humphries. From the far side of the field, they looked up at Wildwood School, which was built in 1923.
From there a pleasant walk through Piedmont Park got the group back to the Exedra after a pleasant 90-minute walk.