Over the past 3 weeks, alumni Don and Hope Dressler have been working to preserve key elements of the gym floor at Elmhurst High School. A race for time against the excavator which will be coming to that side of the building within the next few weeks, the couple have been working to preserve the ‘E’ and both Trojan Head graphics which adorn the wooden floor.
The Dressler’s both graduated from Elmhurst, Don in 1986 and Hope in 1991, who remembered attending gym class, basketball games and other special events in the gym.
The idea to preserve the floor originated through conversations with fellow alumni who also felt it was a key feature of the school that should be saved. The Dressler’s sought approval from Hanson, the current owner of the property, as well as Lunz Excavating, the demolition company. After some persistence, they were able to gain the consent to begin work.
“It’s been a labor of love,” Hope commented. After some test cuts, they quickly discovered that the job would be a little more complicated than originally anticipated, but they had a plan. The floor has a basketball court-style surface that is thick and slatted, with a sub-floor that is glued to concrete, so instead of carefully taking up each wooden slat individually and piecing it together later, the plan was to keep each section together and move it all as one unit. “I commend Don as the leader in the process. I was just helping, sort of like an apprentice,” Hope humbly explained, as she remembered the many hours over the past 3 weeks that it had taken to accomplish the task.
The ‘E’ and Trojan Heads will be stored in a safe location until a permanent home is secured. The Dressler’s would like to see the pieces displayed in a public space on the south side of Fort Wayne, possibly included in the ‘Electric Works’ building or in a storefront featuring Elmhurst memorabilia. They also noted that there were efforts by others to preserve more elements of the former high school, however, none have began recently. Smaller items such as lockers, doors, clocks, etc. have been purchased by private individuals since the demolition process of the school has begun.
Hope commented, “Even when I attended school, I knew Hanson would buy the property someday, so it was no surprise to me when I heard the heartbreaking news. But, we’ll always have our memories and soon we’ll find a permanent home for the floor and items we were able to save.”