By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 15, 2015 at 11:46 AM

This morning the folks in the facilities department of the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District were kind enough to give me a tour of a closed school building – which I feature in a longer piece.

As an added bonus, my tour guide offered to show me an interesting school nearby, too. That one – a merger of two formerly separate school programs and their physical plants – is still open.

Some quick background. Roosevelt, 932 S. 60th St., was built in 1921 and closed in 1996. The district is currently in the process of selling it (more on that next week). It's a modest, but lovely old building that sits idle, with barely an echo of the children that once brought it to life.

About a mile away is Horace Mann Elementary, 6213 W. Lapham St., a K-5 school with an enrollment around 600. The school occupies two school buildings that were once separate but have since been joined.

Washington (below) was built as an elementary school in 1925, as an addition to the original Washington School, which was erected in 1902 (scroll to the bottom for an image).

Mann (below) was constructed as a junior high school in 1930 on the site of the 1902 Washington building, just to the west of the current Washington.

In 1997, the schools merged. These formerly separate buildings are joined by that section with the windows in the middle of the photo below.

After having wandered the stark, dim, quiet halls and classrooms at Roosevelt, seeing Horace Mann alive with activity, the chatter of young voices and the colorful artwork lining the corridors was striking.

Welcome to Roosevelt:

Welcome to Horace Mann:

At Roosevelt, you get a great view of the kindergarten room fireplace:

Meanwhile, at Mann – in one of the old Washington School kindergarten rooms – the fireplace is obscured. But, with colorful signs of activity. What you can't see in the photo is the room full of smiling kids standing behind the photographer.

Gym at Roosevelt:

Gym at Horace Mann:

The contrast is a reminder of what is, really, quite easily apparent: remove the children and all that's left is a building, albeit one packed full of memories and history – both personal and communal.

Bonus photos for schoolhouse geeks:

The 1902 West Allis Washington School ...

... which I'd bet was designed by Lucas Bradley, who drew Racine's Winslow School, which still stands...

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.