Yokohama school to demolish 87-year old building

Kanto Gakuin School 1

The Kanto Gakuin Junior High School has decided to tear down their 87-year old former main building due to age and deterioration.

Built in 1929, the Norman-style building was designed by American architect J.H. Morgan (1868-1937). It was built from reinforced concrete and is 3 storeys with 1 basement. The interior has classrooms and a chapel. It was in use until 2009.

The school principal said that the school and wanted to preserve the historic building but a structural inspection found that the concrete and steel reinforcing was showing significant deterioration. In accordance with guidance from Yokohama City, the school has no choice but to move ahead with demolition.

The building did not appear to show any significant damage from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. 

Demolition is scheduled to start in March 2016. A new school building will be built from 2020 onwards, as construction demand (and construction costs) are expected to decline following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kanto Gakuin School 2

About the architect

In the early 1920s, Morgan was sent to Japan to work as the chief architect for the George A. Fuller Company of the Orient Ltd. – the short-lived Japan branch of the US-based Fuller Company. During this time,  Morgan worked on the design of Mitsubishi’s Maru Building (Marunouchi Building) and Yusen Building, both located in the Marunouchi district in front of Tokyo Station.

The Marunouchi Building survived the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, which occurred a few months after completion. It was demolished in 1999 to make way for a larger office development. The Yusen Building also survived the 1923 earthquake but was demolished in 1976 and replaced with a new office tower.

After the dissolution of the Fuller Company’s Japan venture in 1925, Morgan stayed on, opening up his own arhitectural practice. Many of his works were in the Yokohama area.

Morgan’s other works included:

  • Tohoku Gakuin University’s Main Building, Miyagi Prefecture, c1926 (still standing)
  • Former Yokohama Racecourse Grandstand, c1929 (still standing)
  • Berrick Hall (former Berrick Residence), Yokohama, c1930 (still standing)
  • Morgan Residence, Fujisawa, c1931 (destroyed by a fire in 2007)
  • Yokohama Christ Church, c1931 (still standing)
  • Chartered Bank Building, Kobe, c1938 (still standing)
  • Union Building, Yokohama, c1928 (demolished in 2001)
  • American Consulate, Yokohama, c1932 (demolished)
  • Yamate No. 111 (Raffin Residence), Yokohama, c1926 (still standing)

JH Morgan Architect
[1] Yokohama Racecourse Grandstand (c1929); [2] Berrick Hall (c1930); [3] Yusen Building (c1923) – Demolished in 1976; [4] Kobe Chartered Building (c1938).

Miharudai, Minami-ku, Yokohama

Source: The Kanagawa Shimbun, December 27, 2015.

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