The original Lutheran High School opened in 1946 in the former Mary Institute building at Lake and Waterman. The Crusaders established the first Lutheran High traditions, clubs and athletic teams, creating a strong foundation for generations of Crusaders and Lancers to come.
Lutheran High School remained in the Lake and Waterman location until spring of 1965, when the students helped move the school to its new location at 5401 Lucas and Hunt in North County. The name of the school changed to Lutheran High School North, but the students retained their Crusader heritage with the school colors of maroon and gold.
The members of the Lutheran High School Class of 1965 have a unique story to tell. For nearly four years, they attended the original Lutheran High School at Lake and Waterman. In the last month of their senior year, they helped with the move to the new Lutheran North campus. However, they proudly proclaim their graduation from Lutheran High School (Central) as noted on their diplomas!
The English Tudor structure, built in 1901, served students of the Washington University-owned Mary Institute at Lake and Waterman avenues until 1930. The building had been used by the U. S. Army Communication Corps during World War II. It became available for purchase in 1945.
In January 1946, delegates from forty-four of the forty-eight Association congregations directed the Board to start classes that September. The Board offered the first principal call to Dr. Paul W. Lange, a former Lutheran elementary school teacher, director of curriculum for the Gary, Indiana, public school system and one of the “founding fathers” of the LEA.
The H-shaped facility had two “postage-stamp” size gymnasiums on the second floors of the “legs,” separated into boys’ and girls’ gyms. According to many, students rarely if ever used the showers in the locker room. After all, the girls’ changing room only had one showerhead. Students met in classrooms on the first floor and in the “cross” leg, while the building also housed office space, a library and a small basement cafeteria. The entire facility had hardwood oaken floors. The biology lab was on the first floor of the south leg while the chemistry lab was located on the western side of the “H”. Commercial educational activities that included shorthand and typing were located in classrooms on the second floor near the boys’ gym.
Students did not drive to school. They arrived by streetcar and bus, with many of the coeds hoping to wear the new “junior” outfits popularized in the St. Louis garment district. But instead, they wore long slim skirts and bobby socks because shorts and slacks were prohibited.
The Lutheran High Crusaders continued to experience a number of “firsts.” In April 1948, the Drama Department, directed by Ann Constable, presented its first play: We Shook the Family Tree, starring Doris Rockwell, Bob Kelpe and Martha Wolter. Holders of the sixty-cent tickets received prime seating. The next year the first graduating class adopted the motto, “If Christ be for us, who can be against us?” While the seniors anticipated graduation, nine celebrated charter membership in the first “L” club and could reminisce already with the school’s first Crusader yearbook. Incredibly, the seventy-eight seniors of that first class graduated from a high school accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It was the first high school in Missouri to be accredited prior to graduating a class.
During these early years of Lutheran secondary education, Concordia Seminary and the high school had a special collaborative relationship. Many students had field workers helping in their congregations. Professor Richard Caemmerer and wife Dorothy served on the faculty, while Rev. Dr. Arthur Repp, Sr., was one of several who served on the Board. Instructor John Hoyer’s father Theodore and brother George were professors at the Sem. The track team practiced on the cinder oval just north of the KFUO facility and, as Lutheran High enrollment grew to 820 students in 1957, the tennis team used the Seminary courts.