Until 1971, the impressive structure at 121 Longwell Ave. in Westminster was the home to Westminster High School.
Now East Middle School, the last high schoolers to graduate from the Longwell Avenue facility did so in ’71, said local historian Don Warner. It’s been a middle school since then and was renovated significantly to better serve its middle school function in 1975, he said.
Warner, who was president of Westminster High’s Class of 1953, said he and some of his peers want to make sure the building’s rich history isn’t forgotten.
So Warner, with the help of others, arranged public walking and virtual tours of the facility on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Virtual and walking tours are available at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The on-foot edition requires a lot of walking, Warner said, so those who don’t want or are unable to do that can watch the virtual tour in a first-floor classroom.
But it’s not just any old classroom — it’s Room 106, that of former English and drama teacher William Granville “Mike” Eaton.
Kevin Dayhoff, a Times columnist, wrote in June that Eaton had a profound effect in shaping the Carroll County community.
“His dedication, hard work, wit and wisdom became an inextricable part of the social and intellectual personality of our community,” Dayhoff wrote.
Warner said many remnants of the old high school, like “the old balcony,” remain in the building despite the fact that it’s been home to the middle school for more than three decades.
“The original seats that were in the auditorium are upstairs now,” said Carol Dehne, financial secretary at East Middle. Dehne has coordinated many similar tours for other alumni of the old high school.
“They love [the tours],” she said, adding that she tries to stay out of the way to let the alums experience their old stomping grounds to the fullest. “They need to feel like they were back in high school. … It brings back lots of memories.”
Dehne has orchestrated walking tours often, but this is the maiden voyage for the virtual tour — a 45-minute video.
She solicited the help of Michael Stencil, an East Middle media specialist. Stencil is an “amazing videographer,” she said, and agreed instantly to take on the project. She’s yet to see the video because, she said, “I want to see it when they do — to see their reaction.”
The Westminster High Class of 1953 is celebrating its 65th anniversary, Warner said, and will be taking part in the 2:30 p.m. walking tour.