HISTORY OF FRANZ HALL
Since its humble beginnings in 1906, Loma Linda Academy has grown to be the largest K-12 SDA school in North America. To many of our alumni, nothing represents memories of LLA more than the iconic main building, or what is now referred to as “Franz Hall.” It is here that lessons were learned, friendships were formed and, for some, budding life-long romances were made.
The original main building was erected in the 1930s. On the night of March 17, 1947, a fire of undetermined origin destroyed part of the main building which included the school offices and several classrooms. Only the library and chapel were saved. The building was rebuilt on the existing foundation with minor changes to the facade. However, in February 1969 a flood caused extensive damage to the campus. The basement of the main building was flooded with mud and debris.
In the fall of 1972, a young teacher by the name of Howard Franz joined the high school faculty. Franz made government class come alive. He was no pushover and challenged students to be thinkers. But he also cared deeply and was a true friend to his colleagues and students. He was affectionately referred to as “Uncle Howie.” Franz immersed himself in all aspects of campus life: sports, clubs, mission trips, and student association. For 14 years he selflessly gave his heart to LLA. Although stricken with leukemia in 1986, he continued to be devoted to his students. When his illness forced him to give up driving, he took the bus to work. He didn’t want his students to have a substitute teacher.
On Thursday, December 4, 1986, Franz was at faculty worship at 7:30 a.m. and then in his classroom as usual. His students surprised him with a beautiful Christmas tree. He wrote a note and left it for the next day’s announcements. It read, “Thanks so much for the great surprise. Beautiful Christmas tree from a beautiful class that is loved so much.” That evening he was so weak that a colleague had to drive him home. His condition worsened and he was rushed to the hospital where he died 3 days later. Howard Franz had accomplished his wish to stay at his post of duty until the end.
In April 1988, the LLA administration building was dedicated to Howard Franz and has continued to this day to be known as Franz Hall in memory of this outstanding teacher.
Source: LLA history files and Reflections article (Winter 2004) by Michael Weismeyer, ‘96