Photographic print from glass plate negative of "Old Oakland High School, corner 12th & Market Sts., Oakland CA., ca. 1870's"; (P.Lau, 8/2002) The History of Oakland High School Oakland High started on July 12, 1869, with twenty-nine students and one teacher, J.B. McChesney. They met in one of the rooms at the Lafayette elementary school. This marked the founding of the first high school in Northern California and the second in the state. When Oakland gained in population, the single room became too small. The school board decided that it was time that Oakland High received its own structure. The original Oakland High was built in the fall of 1871, located at 12th and Market Street. Oakland High was soon filled with seventy-five students and an additional teacher. On April 6, 1889, it was destroyed by a fire. Investigators showed that the fire was caused by an arsonist. The classes were quickly relocated to Hamilton Hall at the corner of 10th and Jefferson, while the students and teachers waited for the school to be rebuilt. On October 5, 1889 the school was reopened, but it remained open for only sixteen days when another fire started by an arsonist broke out and destroyed the second story. Students and teachers went back to Hamilton Hall. This time the school board decided that rather than rebuilding the school again. They wanted to build a whole new structure that was much more modern and fireproof. The new building was laid out in 1893 and construction continued for two years. Over $175,000 was spent in building and equipping the new school. The new school was completed in January of 1895. Oakland High remains in that location for the next thirty-four years. The "Old Brick pile" on the corner of 12th and Jefferson was one of the finest school structures in the United States. As the population continued to grow in Oakland, people recommended that Oakland High be reconstructed. They decided to move Oakland High out of the business area (Downtown neighborhood) and closer to where students lived (Cleveland Heights neighborhood). The site was chosen on the corner of Park Boulevard and Hopkins Street (Macarthur). The construction was started in the mid-twenties, and the new building was completed in June of 1928. Oakland spent about $780,000 on the new school. The "Pink palace" opened on September 1929, and remained open through the Depression years, the Second World War, and the post war years. During the 1940's, news came that the building was not earthquake proof. The school board had two choices: To rebuild the whole school again or rebuild the structure to safe standards. They wanted to rebuild the entire school, but because of the cost they could only rebuild the structures of Oakland High. Delays slowed construction and the new Oakland High did not reopen until the fall of 1980. The "windowless wonder" still stands today.
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