“Open-air” classroom at Moore Street School, 1113 W. Moore Street, Richmond, Va.
In the early-20th century, Europe and the U.S. saw the rise of “open air” schools intended to create healthy environments to combat tuberculosis using the principles of sanatoria. Sometimes purpose-built, and sometimes converted spaces, open air schools provided fresh air and extra nutrition for at-risk youth.
In the May 1917 issue of The Modern City, John H. Ferguson wrote about Richmond’s 16 open air schools: “Each school has a capacity of 20 children; and each one is always crowded, with a long waiting list. The children are selected from the entire public school system of the city by the school physician…Few of these children have tuberculosis even in its non-communicative forms, but they are all below par, physically, just in the right receptive condition to be fertile soil for the development of the disease.”
A Richmond Times-Dispatch notice of March 2, 1915 (p. 7) noted fundraising activities of "prominent society women" in support of the open-air schools. These women served as tearoom hostesses in the palm garden of the Jefferson Hotel. Indoor golf was a popular activity for which "two handsome silver cups" were to be awarded at the conclusion of the season.
Tuberculosis, Social Welfare History Project
Tuberculosis, Social Welfare History Image Portal
Carr, Laura (2017). Open air schools: The fight against tuberculosis. The Valentine (blog)
Open-Air Schools. Bulletin 1916, No. 23. Bureau of Education. Department of the Interior. via ERIC
Goldsberry collection of open-air school photographs, Library of Congress
1930s: Open-Air Schools, Retronaut
Does Cold Weather Sharpen a Schoolboy's Wits? The Scrap Book, 1908. pp. 883-884. via HathiTrust.org
Nierenberg, A. (2019 October 27). Classrooms without walls and hopefully covid. New York Times.