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And the West is History: Mason School Under Construction – 1950

Called “ultra-modern” by The Durango Herald, Mason School, located on the 1200 Block of East Third Avenue, opened for classes on February 19, 1951. This school replaced the 60-year-old Central School that burned on the same site in March 1950. Preeminent and prolific Colorado architect Thomas E. Moore designed this distinctive educational structure. Moore was a Yale University classmate and friend of Eero Saarinen. Saarinen is considered a master of American 20th-century architecture. They worked together in 1950 in Aspen. Three years later, also in Aspen, Moore started a lifelong association with R. Buckminster Fuller, the architect, futurist and design genius who popularized the widely known geodesic dome. Moore invented a structural component for Fuller’s geodesic dome. His practice evolved from minimalist residential and public architecture to more innovative projects. From the mid-50s and throughout the 1960s, he worked on new concepts for low-cost housing using his shell and dome designs. His Mason School was closed by Durango School District 9-R in 1990 and sold to the city of Durango in 1995. It was demolished in April 2021. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org (Courtesy of La Plata County Historical Society