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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
In June of 2004, San Diego High School closed for one day, and reopened the next day as the San Diego High Educational Complex. The Complex is comprised of six autonomous small schools, each with it’s own administration, staff and approximately 500 students. School of Business is in the lower 100 building, CIMA is in the 900 building, LEADS is in the upper 100 building, School of International Studies is in the 800 building and the upper bungalows, School of Science and Technology is in the 500 and 600 buildings,and the School of the Arts is in the 400 and 700 buildings.