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San Diego High School | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: San Diego High School
Variant Name: Russ School

Historical Note:

San Diego High School began as the Russ School in 1882.  Named for the founder of a local lumber firm, Joseph Russ donated all of the initial lumber used to build the school.  The original building, designed by the Stewart Brothers and built by Brown and Stevens, was two stories tall and had eight classrooms.  The school opened on August 14, 1882 as a grammar school with an initial enrollment of 308 students—32 more than they had chairs for.

In 1893, the school was given over completely to high school classes.  As the city's population continued to grow and the school became over crowded, architect F.S. Allen was commissioned to design a new building.  His design would come to be known as the "Castle" due to the gray stone used to complete the castle-like structure.  The new school, now officially known as San Diego High School, was dedicated on April 13, 1907.  The old Russ building was moved to the canyon behind the new school when, due to many years of neglect, it burned to the ground in 1911.

The Castle would continue to expand over the years, adding a new addition in 1912, a stadium in 1915 and an auditorium in 1926.  However, due to the passage of the Field Act in the 1960s, all school buildings constructed prior to 1933 had to be demolished.  In 1970, the firm of George Wheeler and Associates was contracted to design the new San Diego High School.  The new school was completed and occupied in September of 1977.

Note Author: Jennifer Hollander

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