SDHS History

San Diego High School is the oldest school in San Diego. The following images and information are of San Diego High, the first 100 years. Photographs taken by Tim Towler and Tony Long. Information provided by Matt Maclean.

1882: The Russ School

The Russ School

San Diego High School had its beginnings with the Russ School, opening August 15, 1882. This eight-room, two story building was built with lumber donated by the Hon. Joseph Russ. In 1888, a gymnasium was built, but was soon after moved to University Heights to become a grammar school. In 1893, the Russ School became entirely a Senior High School, with a new building added in 1898. In 1905, it was decided to build a new High School. The Russ School was moved to make room for the new building. In 1911, the Russ School caught fire and burned to the ground.

The 100 Building, known as the Grey Castle, opened April 13, 1907, and served the city for over 60 years. In 1912, the home economics, fine arts and technical buildings were started, as were plans for the Balboa Stadium.

1907: The Grey Castle

Old Grey Castle

1914: Building Balboa Stadium

Balboa Stadium being built

Balboa Stadium was constructed during 1914, using Steam Shovel and mules as shown in this photo. The Stadium opened on May 31, 1915 during the Panama-California Exposition, with a capacity of 23,000, it was the largest municipal stadium in the nation at the time. In 1960, a second deck was added expanding the capacity to 40,000, making Balboa Stadium the largest High School Stadium in the nation.

In 1922 and 1923, the boy's and girl's gymnasium was erected. The Russ Auditorium was erected in 1926, seating 2500, it became a center for civic activities. In 1928, the Main Gymnasium was built, seating 750.

1926: San Diego High School

Shot of San Deigo High School from above

1937: The Grey Castle

Old Grey Castle covered in ivy

Ivy covering the walls of the Old Grey Castle gave it the famous look that lingers in the memory of San Diego natives.

The Russ Auditorium, seen here from Park Boulevard, was used for school assemblies, as well as being a center for civic activities until it was razed in 1973.

1939: The Russ Auditorium

Picture of the auditorium built in 1939

1976: The New San Diego High

The new San Diego High School opens

In the late 1960's, legislation was passed that all school building constructed prior to 1933 had to be demolished due to new earthquake standards. San Diego High School buildings had to be replaced by June 30, 1975. The demolition of the cafeteria and Russ Auditorium began in late 1973, with construction of the four main buildings beginning in September 1974. When the four main buildings were completed, the remaining old buildings were demolished, and the final phase of construction was started in February 1977. The 700 building constructed in 1938, the 600 building constructed in 1940, and the 500 building constructed in 1950 remained, and are still in use on the campus. Balboa Stadium, being constructed prior to 1933 was also demolished, and was rebuilt in 1978 with 3,500 seats.

100 years after the opening of the Russ School, San Diego High School is still educating students, and a center of the community.

1982: SDHS Centennial

Panorama 100 years after the original school was built

1995: The New 800 Building

New 800 building

With over 1700 students in grades 10 - 12 throughout the mid-90's, San Diego High is still growing. Construction on the new 800 building began in September 1994, and was completed for the opening of school in September of 1995. The new 800 building is linked to the 500 building via a second story walk way, making the rooms in the upper 500 and 600 buildings wheelchair accessable. Other construction work: A new entrance to the school has been constructed from Russ Blvd., leading to the plaza area near the fountain. Room 554 was renovated over the summer of 1995 to give San Diego High School a new chemistry room, with plenty of lab space.

To make room for a full 9th grade, construction of two new buildings began in early 2002. One new buildings will contain 31 classrooms and the other 8 modern science labs.

2002: New Construction Begins

Constuction of the new buildings

1000 Building Open

2003: 900 and 1000 building open and are ready for use

The 900 building has 31 rooms and is the main location of classes for the new 9th grade class at SDHS and the 1000 building has 8 science labs, all are configured mainly for Biology and Chemistry, but also have sufficient counter space for Physics .

900 Open

2004: Small schools are launched

The small schools open
In June of 2004, San Diego High School closed for one day, and reopenedthe next day as the San Diego High Educational Complex. The Complex iscomprised of six autonomous small schools, each with it
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