Lovely La Crosse Park is Formerly a Public School Site
(written by Megan, Archives Staff)
Weigent Park is a lovely park on Cass Street (between 15th and 16th streets) that enhances the neighborhood with a softball field, tennis courts, playground equipment and green space. It was once the site of a public school building.
The first building built exclusively as a high school in La Crosse, and designed by Parkinson & Dockendorf, was dedicated at the site on January 2, 1907.
The Hixon Annex, for what was known then as manual training (we would say vocational or vo-tech today) was completed in 1913 at La Crosse High School.
When Logan High School on the north side was opened in 1928 the school became known as Central High School. Central High School, as any typical high school, had activities as well as academic classes, such as dramatics and sports.
A 1930 play
Basketball squad in 1942
As time went on, ideas of high school education began to change. By the early 1960’s Central High School had responded to those changes by adding more advanced classes in science and mathematics, more foreign language classes, and other specialized courses. There were other inadequacies such as a lack of library space and space for a health center. A new Central High School, on Losey Blvd, was opened September 5, 1967.
The question then became what was the best use of the old Central High School building and this generated a lot of discussion and controversy. The School Board considered selling it to the Diocese of La Crosse for a Catholic School or renovating it to become a Junior High School (the La Crosse Common Council allocated funds for a feasibility study for this). Unfortunately, while the discussion and decision making continued, the building deteriorated due to vandalism and the lack of heat being on in the winter, which drove up the cost of renovation. The School Board, and the Common Council, approved the sale of the old building, with the Common Council buying it for public use.
September 2, 1972
The building was razed the summer of 1972 and the space was transformed into Weigent Park, which opened in 1977. The park was named for Walter “Babe” Weigent, retired athletic director and football coach at Central High School.