The Sacramento

High School Review

June, 1900

Volume 3 No. 6

Twenty-five Cents


History of Our High School.





The Old Sacramento High School at Ninth & M Streets.
Built in 1876, it was used until the 1908-09 school was moved to a new building at Eighteenth & K Streets.

On the 22d of May, 1855, Dr. F. W. Hatch, at that time one of the School Commissioners of this city, proposed that the course of study of the grammar schools should be enlarged by the addition of Astronomy, Latin, French, German, Book-keeping, and General History.  His proposal met with the approval of the Board of Education, but no active measure was taken to put the suggestion into effect until after the election of Dr. Hatch to the superintendency of schools in February, 1856.


On the 1st of September, 1856, the first high school in Sacramento was opened by public exercises.  Superintendent Hatch, Rev. William H. Hill, Dr. J. F. Morse and Dr. W. G. Deal delivering addresses.


It is interesting to note that from the inception of the idea of the desirability of organizing a high school in this city, there has been no authoritative movement toward interfering with the work of business colleges or manual training schools; in the minds of those in charge of the educational department of our city's government, the purpose has always been to afford the grammar school graduates an opportunity to continue their work, under the direction of competent instructors, along the line of studies believed to lead to culture and good citizenship.  It has been proposed to lay a solid foundation upon which structures of many kinds could be built; it has been recognized that there are specific functions pertaining to different kinds of schools, and that the course of study and a high school should not encroach upon the functions of other kinds of the educational institutions.  Our present curriculum is but the natural outgrowth of the courses of study of preceding years, developed in harmony with the development of the State and the demands of the times.


The enrollment of pupils during the forty-two years of the existence of this school shows at first a period of repose, then a slow development, and of late a powerful advance.  In 1856-57, the first year of the school, there were 21 boys and 18 girls enrolled.  For a dozen years the attendance, at no time, reached 50. In 1869-70, however, we find 60 pupils in the school, but the next year, the enrollment dropped to 56. Between 1870 and 1880 there was a gradual increase, in 1879-80 the attendance being 103. From 1880-1885 investigation shows that there were, at times, causes, unusual and unpleasant, which perhaps hindered our growth, the year preceding the election of the present Principal, the average attendance being but 112.  Since 1888, there has been a rapid and nearly uniform increase in attendance.  The enrollment in 1888-89 was 152; in 1892-93, 181; in 1895-96, 267, and during this year there have been 319 pupils in attendance.


The High School has been located in six places in Sacramento.  First, on M street, between Eighth and Ninth, on the north side, on the lot where No. 809 now stands. It occupied this location, together with the grammar school, from September 1, 1856, until the 2d of January, 1858, when the Board of Education moved the school to the southeast corner of Fifth and K streets, where it remained for two and the one-half months, until March 18, 1858. The next move was to Armory Hall, Sixth and L. streets, where the school remained until 1865, the Seventh and G. school building holding the High School pupils for ten years thereafter. The cornerstone of the building now in use was laid by the Masonic fraternity, with appropriate ceremonies, in 1876.  Pioneer Hall was rented and used for the High School while the building was being erected.  It was on January 3, 1877, that the first recitation was held in our present building. Four years ago it was thought best to enlarge the building.  The south wall was moved toward M. street fourteen feet, thus giving us the two rooms at present used by the senior class. Two years ago our increased attendance necessitated the renting of the ground floor of the small building across the street as our annex; and this year our class in drawing has been compelled to use a room in the Perry Seminary building, I street, between Tenth and Eleventh.  The cellar has been improved during the past few years, and has been converted into chemical and physical laboratories, with suitable apparatus for high school needs.


In the early years of our existence there were many changes in principals; the times were stirring, the population more or less fluctuating.  We find that John W. Howe was the first principal, being erected on the 25th of August, 1856, and acting until May 8, 1857.  The Board of Education having decided that Greek should be in the course of study, and Mr. Howe declined to be examined in Greek, C. A. Hill was elected to fill the position.  In August of the same year, Mr. Hill resigned, and A.R. Jackson took his place. On the 20th of May, 1858, Charles A. Swift succeeded Mr. Jackson as principal, and Mr. Jackson remaining as assistant.  During the year 1859-60 Mr. Swift showed signs of mental illness, and, on October 17, 1860, his place was declared vacant, and Mr. Jackson took charge.  On April 29, 1861, being refused an increase in salary, Mr. Jackson resigned, and with a in a week, J. W. Anderson, the predecessor of State Superintendent Black, was elected.  Mr. Anderson remained in charge for a little over a year.  Upon resigning, the vacancy was filled by the election of R.K. Marriner, who served until March 27, 1865, his successor being James L. Fogg, who gave place to Milo L. Templeton on the 29th of April of the same year.  We still have a gift of the class of  ' 66 in the physical laboratory.  The telescope, in good order, used by the members of the senior class, was purchased from funds obtained from calisthenic exhibition of the class of  ' 66, and presented to the High School thirty-two years ago. Mr. Templeton was the most persistent of the principals of his time, for it was not until 1871 that he was succeeded by J. W. Roper, who held the post but a few months, when he withdrew, and J. Derham was elected, but declined on account of ill-health.  H. H. Howe was placed in charge on the 26th of February, 1872, but gave way to his brother, E. P. Howe, two months later.  It is interesting that Miss Alice H. Dwinelle, the aunt of Blanche Dwinelle of the present Sophomore Class, was elected an assistant this year, and remained in the school, an able and interesting teacher for four years.  On July 7, 1873, D.C. Stone was elected, but resigned on July 21, and O.M. Adams, one of the ablest educators of his time, was elected to direct affairs scholastic at this school.  It was during the administration of Mr. Adams that our present High School building was constructed, at a cost of $12,427.95, and many of the teachers in Sacramento County, as well as others, rightly pay him high tribute for what they gained from him intellectually.  He served until June 30, 1884, almost twelve years.  Joseph L. Crittenden, the Vice-Principal, took charge for the remainder of the term.  On the 3d of September, 1884, W. W. Anderson was elected Principal, serving until July 16, 1888, when J. H. Pond, who had been elected to the position of Vice-Principal two years previously, was elected to the principalship.  Mr. Pond is Principal at the present time.


When, on the 1st of September, 1856, the Sacramento High School was formally opened, the hope was modestly but forcibly expressed that the institution might be a means of good in the city.  In March, 1857, Superintendent Hatch reported that the effect of the High School "upon the other schools has been most salutary, giving them an impulse which before was much needed, and stimulating them to strive to attain a position which is justly regarded one of some honor and worthy of an honorable emulation."  It is to be hoped that the words of Superintendent Hatch are true of the High School during its entire existence, and that, in the future, the relations which exists between the High School and the grammar schools of this city may be mutually beneficial and inspiring.  In 1886, the University of California adopted a system of accrediting the work of teachers in pupils of the high schools of this State having a satisfactory course of study and competent instructors.  Our High School was immediately placed upon the list of accredited schools, and ever since its name may be found on the list of those which the University has honored by its approval.  May the educational authorities of this State, in their commendation of our efforts, furnish an incentive to the continued performance of our duty as the pupils and instructors; and may we realize that such praise redounds to the good of our city, and that we not only benefit ourselves that are of positive service to others, when we remember and endeavor to fulfill our obligations to our beloved Alma Mater.


Source: "The Sacramento High School Review". Devoted to the interests of Sacramento High School. The Sacramento, California, June, 1900.

© 2002 Nancy Pratt Melton

Sacramento High School Graduates 1864-1900

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