More Windsor Mid-Century

Today’s Photo Du Jour brings us another creation from the Windsor firm of Johnson & McWhinnie. I spent a little time at the Windsor library this past weekend trying to uncover a little information about the firm. Despite searching through microfilm, all that I uncovered came from old City Directories. Douglas C. Johnson & Cunningham McWhinnie got together and formed the firm in 1953. They were both employed as “Architectural Draftsmen” with separate firms when they got together. They landed a huge job with the City of Windsor in 1957 when they won the bid for the new Civic Center. The outcome was the Cleary Auditorium and Guest House. It appears that the partnership lasted from 1953 until 1985. Mr. Johnson was active as an architect until his retirement in 1993.

The building featured today is now known as Century Secondary School. Prior to that it was known as Cal-Tec (California Road Technical School), and when it first opened it was called William Hands Vocational School. Generations of Windsor kids grew up making fun of students who went to Hands as well as Shawnee.

The building was built in 1964, and features a large circular cafeteria as one of the key architectural features.

A view of the building from the south.

A ghostly outline reveals “William Hands Vocational School”

The cantilevered overhang, creating a covered walkway is a standard feature.

The north end of the building features interesting shapes.

Around the back of the school, is this lovely car.

A peek through the front windows offers a flashback…

The large circular cafeteria.

A peek in through the windows reveals that there has been next to no changes. A textbook example of a mid-century interior.

10 Comments on More Windsor Mid-Century

  1. I’d love to give props to FAR for coming to Windsor… However when I look at the full-size picture it reveals that it’s the more High School related “FAG”. Most of the Windsor Graff is pure crap. Just junk ass tags, etc…

  2. Ouch. Those photos seriously remind me of my school days [shudder]. Please post something soon so I won’t have to see them again!

  3. wow i went to william hands secondary school.
    i graduated in 1988. it was a pretty good school, to bad they changed the name of it…even though it was named after William Hands the first post office in sandwich ontario. when the fur trades were going on back then with duff baby…..He was located close to mill st…it looked like an old shack…i might have a picture of that? somewhere in my files…here in my office…
    anyways wow Andrew do you need more info? Thanks again! I love your website! I am a history junkie!
    and i thought hands was older then 1960’s? I could be wrong…..bye for now………

  4. Wonderful job with the round cafeteria. The architect probably reasoned that this design would make food fights more fair for all students, since the other side of the caferia is always the same distance away no matter what wall you are standing against.

  5. I remember my mom telling me about the school. She went to that school when it was Shawnee. From her year books the school still some what the same. I know what it is like to have students making fun of you for what school you go to. I went to Western Secondary School. So i know what it is all about.

  6. i graduated from century in 2008 and learned alot out of it i think it is the last school left in windsor that still has many hands on trades now i know that most people think it is a hole in the ground and i thought so to when i started back in grade 9 but i seen that there was a old pond in the middle of the school grounds and thought that it would be neet to have one again so i made it a passtime when i was sitting in class to draw and landscape and 4 years past and my grad year i made my photos come out and now it might look bad but once you walk indoors and see the pond you know that it isent that bad, everthing that we needed was at the school or could be taut at the school so i would like to see a nother school do what we did for such a low price and yes it does still look the same as william hands did but you dont need new desks or chalk bords to learn and you dont need new lunch tables to eat on, if they work fine and arnt falling appart then why spend more money to get new ones that will break in 3 years when the ones we have has bin around for 30.

    you may want to get back in to the school and take photos of the pond and post them

    Century Secondary Grad 2008
    Matthew Bottoms

  7. Shawnee was located on empress on the east end and later became St Joseph’s Catholic High school. The worst thing the public board ever did was give the shawnee building up.

  8. I think public board gave it up when full funding came in, the separate board left because an asbestos problem and poor air quality.

  9. I was shipped off to Willian Hands when it was first built.Every day subjects it was a mix of boys and girls. The shops were limited,boys only, girls only. I tried to get into a boys shop class because it was something I wanted to learn, (career choice) but it was not allowed.

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