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El Paso High School
El Paso, Texas


Description: El Paso High School
Other Names: none
Address: 1600 North Virginia Street, bounded by Cliff, Schuster and Ange Streets, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: educational: high school
Original Client: El Paso Independent School District
Historic Inventory: National Register number 80004103
Date: 1913-1916 completed by August 1, 1916
Condition: extant; in use as a high school

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost; John J. Stewart, supervising architect of the stadium
Contractors: J. E. Morgan, concrete frame, 1915; completed by American Construction Company of Houston; Elliott Engineering Company of El Paso, heating and ventilating; L. B. McChesney, plumbing; C. J. Plastering Co., Fort Worth, lathing and plastering; J. F. Woodward, Jr., the stadium
Dimensions and Orientation: three stories with elevated basement; L-shaped, each wing 292 feet 9 1/2 inches long; faces east
Architectural Style: early 20th century Neo-Classicism
Budget/Cost: $446,586.09, without grounds or moveable equipment

Foundation: reinforced concrete
Wall Materials: pressed brick
Roofing Materials: reinforced concrete and steel roof, flat except for extensive skylights
Other Materials Used: the frame is of reinforced concrete and steel, with pressed brick walls, and terra cotta columns, ornament and trim. Toilet room Alaskan able
Remodeling and Additions: exterior basically intact; skylights have been removed, and the roof tarred; classrooms have been remodeled, and auditorium renovated as Center for the Performing Arts

Present Owner: El Paso Independent School District
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (W-1) 35 ink on linen plans, including elevations, dated November 14, 1914 and September 9, 1915; (WW-17) 2 sheets of plans, ink on linen, and one sheet, tissue; (WW-17) ink on linen, four sheets of plans for retaining wall, dated March 15, 1917; Aultman 5372, photograph of drawing of birds-eye view, without skylights; Ponsford 598-606, photographs of plans dated November 14, 1914.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 215, postcard; Ponsford 383-418, exterior and interior views; Aultman 1086, 1087, 1088; Aultman 5293, portico with group of faculty.

Bibliography: (1) Rufe P. March, High School Building is Model One, El Paso Herald, August 26, 1916, Progress and Building Section, pages [1] and 2, described and illustrated with photographs of exterior
(2) El Paso Herald, September 20, 1916, report on opening
(3) The El Paso High School, The American School Board Journal, volume 54, no. 5, May, 1917, pages 29-32, extensively described and illustrated, with interior and exterior photographs, floor plans and site plan
(4) The American School Board Journal, volume 55, no. 2, August, 1917, page 47, photograph of facade
(5) The American School Board Journal, volume 58, no. 3, March, 1919,page 65, line drawing (Aultman 5372)
(6) The El Paso High School, The Architect and Engineer of California, volume 50, no. 3, September, 1917, pages 87-92, described and illustrated, with floor plans
(7) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht, Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981), pages 68-69, described and analyzed; pages 69-70, illustrated with exterior and interior photographs and floor plan
(8) Evan Haywood Antone, editor, Portals of the Pass; El Paso Area Architecture to 1930 (El Paso: El Paso Chapter, American Institute of Architects, 1984), pages 42-45, described, illustrated
(9) Ed Ivey [Associated Press], Architect Trost Left Legacy in Southwest, Austin American Statesman, February 9, 1991, page B-3, described, illustrated
(10) Frank Mangan, El Paso in Pictures (El Paso: The Press, 1971), page [66], construction photograph
(11) Jay C. Henry, Trost and Trost in El Paso, Texas Architect, volume XXXVII, number 2 (March April, 1987), front cover and pages 34-39 (page 35: exterior photographs; page 37: compared to Loretto Academy
(12) El Paso Herald, June 3, 1916 page 9 speaks of the exterior will be finished.
(13) El Paso Herald, August 2, 1916 page 14 ‘$10,000 Organ for High School”
(14) El Paso Herald, November 12, 1916 page 12 ‘ High School Done by August 1, 1916’

Remarks: Commission 2311, general; Commission 2410, retaining wall.

El Paso High School is the oldest operating high school in El Paso and is part of the El Paso Independent School District. “The Lady on the Hill,” as El Paso High is nicknamed, sits on a mountainside at the foot of the Franklin Mountains overlooking the central portion of the city and its boundary with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. It stands out prominently on the horizon commanding a view of the city.

Built by the architectural firm of Trost & Trost, the Greco-Roman features of El Paso High School make it a unique landmark in town. Construction for the school cost about $500,000.00. The inside of the school with its marble floors is as elegant as the outside. Inside the front entrance, the hallway that circles the rear of the large auditorium has coffered low ceilings and classical columns. The main corridor floor was of marble; the other hall floors were of quarter-sawed oak; and the classroom floors were made of hard maple. The location of the Corinthian porch, on the inside angle of two wings forming an L, meeting each wing at a 45 degree angle, is a feature with little precedent. Originally a roof garden covered the entire structure.

The stadium was finished by June of 1916 and was to be used by the high school cadets for their drills and reviews.

This is an outstanding example of early 20th century Neo-Classicism, one of the most noteworthy examples in the state, attests the planning and aesthetic achievements of the architectural firm of Trost and Trost. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1980.

In 1916, a committee of local citizens headed by members of the school board canvassed local businessmen of the city for subscriptions to purchase a pipe organ for the auditorium for the new high school.
E.H. Pillsbury, general agent of the California Organ company and Joshua S. Reynolds, former president of the First National bank started the fund with $3,000. The remaining money was to be raised from donations from financially able businessmen of the city.

At a school board meeting, Mr. Pillsbury spoke of the advantages of having a organ in the school. ” I have traveled from the eastern and western coasts, and I don’t believe that I have ever seen a finer high school building than the one in El Paso,” said Mr. Pillsbury. ” An organ of the size desired to fit in the auditorium of the new building would cost at lease $10,000″.

A smaller model of the organ was installed in the Masonic temple in Tucson, Arizona that same year. Also a Trost designed building.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990