Photo of the Week
June 22, 2003

I give up!!! I acquired this old colorized post card recently and don't have a clue as to what this building is.  The title on the card says, "Community House, Balboa, Canal Zone.  It looks familiar, but then again it doesn't.  There are comfortable sitting chairs on the porch.  

Anyone know where and what this building is/was?

I received several comments about this old photo and I think we have the answer as to the what and where.

Art Mokray wrote after going by the old school:

I went by today, but you can't hardly see the building anymore with the @7 foot wall and all the trees in the way. But I did go by Niko's Cafe in Balboa and looked at the black and white prints there. Some confusion on the dates, but about 1933 -1936 there's a building just like that at that site. The 1933 print shows the Masonic Temple next to it, the 1936 shot doesn't. I don't think the flag pole is visible though on one shot you could see something above the roof line, but you can see what looks to be small palms in front of the building. Check with Vicenti and see if he has a shot of Balboa looking down from Quarry Heights. Also saw Nina today and she will look at your Photo of the Week when she gets home. She noted that before that building went to the Mary Knoll Sisters, it was the St Francis Academy. Yeah, I went to that school for three of the eight or nine years when the Franciscans ran it.  I was trying to find my St Mary's year book to see if a photo of the front of that building appeared. Can't seem to find it. I'll keep looking.

Bill Fall wrote:
That was kind of neat with the 3 of us tracking down St. Mary's School.  Most of us tend to focus on the new addition when you think of the school, not so much the front.  As I recall, there was a large bachelor quarters right across the street and there may have been trees between the building and the road.  I lived in Gavillan Area and my short cut to school was between the Masonic Temple and the School through the parking lot.

Peggy Keller wrote:
I believe this building you are wondering about is the old "St. Francis Studio (Convent) which eventually became St. Mary's School. It was located a little ways up from the YMCA on Balboa Road and just beyond it was the Masonic Temple.
You can see Plank Street in the background -- this was a lovely old street with wooden cottages. Of interest, you can see the Trolley Tracks and overhead lines in front of the building (trolley ran from La Boca to the outskirts of Panama City then -- Sabanas & Bella Vista -- as very few people owned automobiles. They used the trolley or a jitney.

George Chevalier wrote:
In the beginning it was a Catholic Social Hall/Club and later became the Catholic Parochial School located just below the Masonic Temple on Balboa Rd.   Plank St. ran behind it.

This is a crop from a large panoramic photo.  Although small,  you can see the building if you look closely.  The large building on the left is the Masonic building and to the right is the building.  The other large buildings could be the wooden bachelor quarters that Bill Fall mentions.  Plank street and the cottages that Peggy mentions can be seen with the light colored roofs.

Here is another old post card that shows the old building.  See yellow arrow.  I had this PC in my album all the time.  Bill Fall reminded me of it by sending me a scan of the same PC.

Thanks to the contributors above and all the others that wrote to solve this mystery.

Long live the memories of the Canal Zone.

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