The Secrets of Brentwood

Have you ever wondered what lurks in the rooms under Brentwood High School? Similar to any other building constructed in the 1920’s, Brentwood has many secrets. I voluntarily risked my safety and ventured into the depths of BHS. What I found left me questioning the history of this building and what a typical day at BHS would have been like a century ago. 

Staircase that leads to the… ceiling? Photo by Ben Haug

My adventure began at the first door visible when you walk down the bifurcated stairs on each side of the main entrance. This set of caramel-colored double doors has one handle, which when pulled, reveals a rather odd room. On each side of the dusty, unused room was a set of cement stairs leading to… the ceiling? The original purpose of these stairs was to allow sports teams to move easily from the small gym to the basement where the old locker rooms once stood. Now, it’s safe to say that the only purpose these stairs currently serve is becoming the main focus of my nightmares.

Also located in the main staircase room are the Harry-Potter-like closets under the two sets of stairs. Instead of thinking about the outcome of any horror movie that has ever been created, I decided to slowly twist the ancient knob and open the door on the right. Within this closet was not a terrifying monster; but instead, I found many gems of Brentwood’s history. Boxes of yearbooks  up to 80 years old stood stacked against a red brick wall. Along with the yearbooks were graduation robes, more books, and other memorabilia from BHS’s past. I randomly selected three yearbooks to investigate further. The oldest yearbook was from 1940 and was written on a typewriter. Each yearbook held its own unique piece of Brentwood’s history. One of the books still had signatures from 60 years ago!

Three yearbooks from as early as 1940. Photo by Ben Haug
Spooky padlock bump-out that will be demolished soon. Photo by Ben Haug

After spending a little too long perusing the yearbooks, I decided to explore further. On each side of the staircase room is a hallway. Each hallway has its own secrets and mysteries. For part one of this exploration, I took a right turn and went down the hallway which has three doors and an odd bump-out. The bump-out, which holds a desk and a singular phone locked in with a padlock (weird I know), is going to be demolished in the next month during the renovation.

Directly across from the phone-and-chair-bump-out is the door to what used to be the boy’s locker room before BHS had the large gym. Over the past 80 years, this room has had many purposes. Most recently, it was used as the student council room. However, that only lasted for a few months before the StuCo materials were moved out and construction moved in. Currently, it is one of the many projects happening during the multi-stage renovation. After saying goodbye to the old StuCo room, I ventured further down the hallway.

Storage room behind the metal door at the end of the hallway. Photo by Ben Haug

Immediately, I noticed a door to Mr. Heinrich’s room to my left; however, what truly caught my eye was a steampunk-ish, ominous metal door at the end of the hallway. In all honesty, I would never have entered that room without a reason. Lucky for me, I made it out alive… barely. This room represents the climax of the horror movie which is the basement of Brentwood High School. It has a balcony surrounding a sunken area of the room which is currently being used for storage. Lining the walls is an assortment of valves and pumps and switches which were VERY hard not to touch. Along with the countless touchable objects were chains and pipes lining the paint-chipped wall. On the far wall of the room are two openings into pitch-black cement rooms…very scary cement rooms. While both are used for storage of ancient desks and chalkboards, it is mesmerizing to imagine what those crevices were used for when BHS was first opened. After snapping a picture of the cobweb-covered concrete, I walked at a very quick pace out of that room and back upstairs where I could breathe a sigh of relief. 

After exploring the secrets of Brentwood’s basement, I can only imagine the other secrets held throughout the old building. As the renovation progresses further, we continue to lose secret gems like the odd phone bump-out and possibly the storage room for Brentwood’s history. While no one will be able to explain the staircases that led to nothing or the cement alcoves in the room with the metal door, it is still important to explore these treasures held within our building before they’re lost forever. So next time you walk past a tiny door under a staircase or a weird phone room, take a moment to think about what it shows about the history of our school.

Yearbook signatures from over 50 years ago! Photo by Ben Haug