History of Polytechnic, by Lois Park, from December 1915
Away back in
1884, Polytechnic High School began its eventful career. At that
time it was not even a high school, nor was it named
Polytechnic. Originally it was called the Commercial School, its
only course being along commercial lines. It was located on
Powell Street, between Clay and Sacramento. The quarters there
were too small and at a later date the school was moved to a
small frame building at the corner of Bush and Stockton Streets.
In 1890 academic subjects were added to the curriculum and in
1895 a brick annex was built and art work and shop introduced.
It was then that the school first became known as the
Polytechnic High School.
In 1900 the attendance was nine hundred and fifty students, and
‘Poly’ was the leading school of the city. In that same year,
however, the commercial branches were removed and organized into
a separate school, the present High School of Commerce. There
were only about one and twenty students left, but they continued
hopefully on until the fire in 1906. When school reopened after
the great catastrophe, the old building having been burnt, the
teachers and pupils sought shelter in some vacant rooms in the
Affiliated Colleges (forerunner of University of California at
San Francisco). Here classes were held for a term and a half,
while the Board of Education put up two or three earthquake
shacks on the lot where the new building now stands. (This lot
had been purchased in 1905 and plans for a new building were
made at that time, but they were destroyed in the fire.) The
school moved into the shacks, and as it was constantly growing,
more shacks were added from time to time until the present
unsightly collection was formed.
At this time, a vigorous campaign was begun by the faculty and
the students for the erection of a new building. Bonds were
voted for at two separate elections. The first issue was
declared illegal, but at the second election, bonds for six
hundred thousand dollars were voted for the school. The work of
the ‘Poly’ supporters at this time may not be valued too highly,
for on the same ballot with the school issue, were ten or twelve
other issues, none of which carried. It was decided to build the
shop portion of the new building first, and so it was that we
lived part of the time in the new building and the rest of the
time in the shacks. While we enjoyed the comforts and
improvements of the new building, we also paddled through damp
halls and recited our lessons to the accompaniment of rattling
windows and creaking doors.
After the steel frame for the rest of the building was up it
seemed as though we would never get any further. During changes
of municipal administration it stood a bare skeleton while
disputes occurred over the plans and finances. However, the work
was eventually resumed, and after a last campaign for equipment,
we are now located in our beautiful new building.
Our dream has come true and we now have the finest, most modern
school west of the Rocky Mountains. With its stately appearance
and complete equipment it now remains for the pupils to regain
‘Poly’s’ supremacy over the high schools of San Francisco.
By LOIS PARK.