School House

Via Roma 41, Campobasso, Municipality of Campobasso, Molise Region, Italy
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School building
Year of build:
Original name:
Enrico d’Ovidio School
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The building was not built according to architectural codified canons
Past and Present Ownership of the Building/Site:

Campobasso Municipality

Typology and Style

The construction, built in the early 20s of the last century, can be considered one of the most important architectural examples of the city of Campobasso relative to the era in which it was built. Built in the central area with respect to the urban grid of the nineteenth-century expansion of the city, it is found to be a scenic backdrop for one of the roads perpendicular to the main road axes (viale Elena, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and via Roma) of the city and precisely for what it laps the Municipal Palace dividing it from the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and goes north-east. This building can also be considered one of the first examples of construction with a mixed structure, that is load-bearing masonry and reinforced concrete, certainly an avant-garde intervention for the city and for the period in which it was conceived. Then covered with white squared stone and decorated with pilasters and frames, both string course and framing of the openings, it acquires an unobtrusive solemnity and grandeur, in the not rich urban scenography of the city. Over the course of time, it has kept its typological and functional characteristics unchanged, with the exception of the isolated body of the gym behind it, which was demolished in the 1980s and was substituted with a building with a modern conception and stylistic rupture.

Degree of preservation and status of protection

The building is in a good state of conservation, even if some rooms are in a state of decay and abandonment. The building is now home to the Municipal BiblioMediaTeca and the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Architectural Description

The building, with a regular shape, referable geometrically to the rectangle (118.50 x 11.90 ml.), is spread over four functional floor levels, with a height on Via Roma of approximately 15.70 ml.: in the basement, some offices are located in the former school canteen, and for the remaining part, the premises are used for storage, with parts of them in particular in a state of decay and abandonment. On the mezzanine and on the remaining floors, the classrooms and rooms for teaching activities were located, as well as the central and suggestive Aula Magna which geometrically acts as the axis of symmetry of the building. The two bodies, with a square base located at the rear and centrally to the two wings, accommodate the stairs and the services of the various floors.

The main structural features are:

• vertical structural facings in squared stone masonry;

• reinforced concrete floors

• internal stairs with reinforced concrete slabs;

• brick-cement roofing on trusses and steel trusses.

The outdoor spaces behind the structure are in a poor state of maintenance and are used on occasion as a parking space.

History and Historical Context

The project of the "School House" was approved on 20.12.1911, but the works suffered various interruptions due to the inclement weather, for the controversies that arose with the building company and for the difficulties due to the state of war in the period 1915/18. From November 1917 to September 1918, the building was requisitioned by the military authorities for the construction of a military hospital. The takeover by the Mayor of Campobasso took place on September 30, 1919. Its majestic structure presents symmetrical and regular architectural lines, made more suggestive by the stone masonry. In the Great Hall, the plaque placed on the front wall "by the pupils and teachers" in memory of those killed in the war and the majestic chandelier, the work of the master Giuseppe Tucci, take on particular significance. Unfortunately, documents relating to school life and activities relating to the period from 1920 to 1924 are missing. Through the notes of the director Francesco Marino, attached to the teachers' files from 1925 to 1935, it is possible to detect all the initiatives taken by the school for local and national events during which pupils' choirs, praised by the school authorities, were performed. In the statistical report prepared by Vincenzo Arcolesse in 1926, the number of classes, the significant number of failed students, the small number of approved ones are highlighted. The data in the document represent a school situation in which the failure rate and school dropout greatly increased the number of illiterate people. Only after the programs of 1945, aimed at eliminating illiteracy, and those of 1955, the number of pupils per class was reduced. On July 7, 1936, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the death of his brother Francesco D'Ovidio, the Casa della Scuola was named after Enrico D’Ovidio, a mathematician from Campobasso who contributed to the foundation of the Italian school of algebraic geometry.

Values of the Building

The School House is located in a privileged urban position, in the historic center of Campobasso. For years it has represented the "school" of all people from Campobasso, who nurture a nostalgic affection for it. From an architectural point of view, the school, built in the early 1920s, can be considered one of the most important examples of the city of Campobasso, in relation to the era in which it was built. In addition, the building hosted Austrian prisoners during the First World War, then became a working school for arts and crafts and finally was used for its educational function.

Description of the Urban Context and Development

The School House is located in the center of Campobasso, at the base of a possible route starting from the Monforte castle, which passes next to the Samnite Museum and arrives in via Roma, where the building is located: a privileged urban location and easy to access.

New Cultural Tourist Offer Focused on Selected Building/Site

Creating a museum for permanent and temporary exhibitions and for cultural activities. In the garden it is supposed to create a place of entertainment with a bar and outdoor events.