By Connie and Lynn Baer
On Friday, Oct. 16, Grossmont High School will celebrate its 95th anniversary. In honor of that celebration, we present the second in a series of five columns sharing pieces of our amazing history.
The most historic building on campus that is still used by Grossmont students is the Old Gym, (not to be confused with the New Gym of 1970). Recently, using our archives of the student newspaper, The Foothill Echoes, we discovered amazing details in articles that chronicled the building’s origin.
In December 1935, a $90,000 bond issue funded three major projects on campus, the Vocational Arts and Agriculture building, the remodeling of the rear wing of the original 1922 school from an auditorium to a two-story classroom wing, and the creation of a new Physical Education-Auditorium building. The projected cost of the project was $163,000; 45 percent of it was an outright gift from the government through the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. The remainder was funded through a community bond.
Architect Frank L. Hope designed the Old Gym building in the art deco style typical of WPA projects. One of the details of the construction coverage in the student newspaper included an invitation to students to help with the construction: “Those willing to work three afternoons a week can get transfers from their fourth, sixth, and eighth period classes and must report to Coaches Beck, Bowen, or Mashin for physical examination. Tools like hammers, saws, yardsticks, etc. will be furnished to volunteers.”
The Old Gym was completed in time for homecoming on Feb. 22, 1937, with the homecoming dance being held that night. Countless memories linger in the building: decades of Christmas pageants, thousands of basketball games and other sports such as badminton, student assemblies, P.E. classes, student plays and musicals, as well as community-sponsored events.
Recently, the exterior of the Old Gym was painted white with gray trim, reminding us of its historic past by echoing the gray granite of the original 1922 school standing nearby. Due to the generosity of the Class of 1964, which donated the proceeds from their 50th reunion, the historic sign that once appeared above the doorway, now proclaims, as it did in the past, “Auditorium-Gymnasium” with the added year of completion, 1937. On the corner of the building is the original WPA bronze plaque proclaiming its historic roots.
Dan Barnes, GHS Principal, expressed the appreciation of the students, staff and community for the class’s donation.
“Thank you so much for your gift to GHS,” Barnes said. “As a parent and principal here, I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate your beautification efforts. It’s making a difference all across the campus.”
Plan ahead to join us Friday, Oct. 16, when we honor the bonds that Foothillers have shared since 1920. Visit the museum to learn more about GHS, past and present.
The museum’s summer hours are noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, and Wednesday, Aug. 12, or by appointment.