Built in 1908 on the southwest corner of Hennepin Avenue and 28th Street, West High School opened with over 1,000 students. One of its most memorable features included a large auditorium featured a balcony, windows on some of the sides and along the back wall, architectural detail, and a large stage.
The building was expanded in 1916, bringing the four-story building’s size to 162,516 square feet. A 1931 report on the building’s fire safety conditions reported that the enrollment at the time was 2,268 and had 65 classrooms and 8 special rooms. The basement housed the boys gymnasium, metalworking shop, and boiler room. The first floor contained the lunch room, kitchen, building machinery, laboratories, domestic science, woodworking, and normal classrooms. The library, auditorium, stage, sewing, and normal classrooms occupied the second floor. The third and fourth floors of the school were devoted to ordinary class work.
A 1963 report stated that the building was located on 3.7 acres of land and the athletic field on 3.3 acres. An evening graphic arts program and adult education was offered in the evenings. Throughout the 1950s, enrollment at West High School fluctuated between 728 in 1952 to 878 in 1959. Class size in 1963 had increased to 1,016, which was below the report’s optimum capacity of 1,099.
There were classes for many subjects, ranging from cooking, drafting, electrical engineering, machine shop, woodworking, domestic science, and more.
Students had a wide range of athletic options, such as field hockey, speedball, hiking, horseback riding, tennis, tumbling, skating, fencing, volleyball, swimming, and more. The school’s athletic field was in between the building and the railroad tracks, perpendicular to Hennepin Avenue.
The school closed in 1982 and was demolished in 1984. A senior apartment building, townhomes, and the YWCA were built on the school’s site. Most of their existing student body were transferred to Southwest High School.
The old West sign is embedded at the corner of 28th Street and Hennepin Avenue in honor of the site’s history. Prior to West’s construction, the Russell Farm and Residence used to occupy the site.
Featured, History — By Thatcher Imboden on August 16, 2010 1:28 am