The Tower — the architectural edifice that represented Manteca High traditions for nearly half a century — could make a comeback if a grassroots committee has its way.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer confirmed Wednesday that he has meet with members of the restore the Tower Committee that has a full page ad on Page A8 of today’s Bulletin.
The group wants to see the Tower incorporated in some form in upcoming Measure G modernizations planned for the East Yosemite Avenue campus. Work on the plans is expected to start either in December of this year or early 2016.
“We understand the rich tradition that the tower represents,” Messer said.
While the district has not committed to anything, Messer noted in order to have a tower similar to the one that was knocked down on Oct. 3, 1969 despite a major community effort to save it from demolition, it would need to have a practical use such as a computer server room, storage or such.
The tower was part of the original permanent Manteca High building that was dedicated on Jan. 27, 1923.
The tower was removed because it did not meet earthquake standards. The district at the time declined to do major retrofitting such as was done at Tracy High to retain use of the historically significant structure. A Save the Tower Committee was formed and got virtually universal support. But that didn’t stop its demolition on Oct. 3, 1969. Crews failed twice using a cable to topple the tower. Finally they brought in a massive Caterpillar tractor to do the job.
A significant number of people already pledging their support for the committee’s efforts to bring the tower back did not attend Manteca High when the tower was in place. A fair number weren’t even born,
Aaron Bowers, the district’s director of construction management, first advanced the idea earlier this year.
To show how deep the bell tower goes in Manteca High alumni psyches, Bowers wasn’t even born when the tower came down due to earthquake safety issues. Bowers is a Manteca High graduate who understands how important the tower was to alumni that graduated before him. Even 46 years later there are those still mourning the loss of the Manteca icon. It even inspired the name of the school’s yearbook.
Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke in June noted whatever the final design for Manteca High renovations are cost will be a factor in deciding if a tower will be included.
The district wants to make the oldest high school in the district not only functional as a modern campus but to do so while improving safety, enhancing traffic flow and protecting the historic significance of the campus.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org