Our History

  • El Paso High School is the oldest operating high school in El PasoTexas and is part of the El Paso Independent School District. It serves the West-Central section of the city, roughly west of the Franklin Mountains and north of Interstate 10 to the vicinity of Executive Center Boulevard. It is fed by Wiggs Middle School, into which the three elementary schools in its feeder pattern, Lamar, Mesita, and Vilas, graduate.

    "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 JuárezMexico. 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 made 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. Most of the toilet and shower rooms were finished in tile, marble and porcelain.

    The ground floor is below street level. The second floor is at street level, and its two perpendicular wings connect at a 45-degree angle with a heavily decorated Corinthian porch or pavilion. This overlooks Jones Stadium, named after the first Assistant Principal of the school, R. Randolph Jones. The stadium, seating 12,000, was one of the first major concrete stadiums built in the country. Semicircular steps lead up to the main entrance to the school built of concrete and tile. At the top of the steps are six terra cotta pillars supporting a pediment and entablature bearing the school's name.

     
    El Paso High School (postcard, circa 1916)

    On each side of the steps are brick and terra cotta-trimmed bases, holding cast-iron candelabra. Above the front doors a bronze tablet bears these words: "'A Cultivated Mind is the Genius of Democracy: It is the Only Dictator that Free Men Acknowledge and the Only Security that Free Men Desire' -- Mirabeau B. Lamar."

    In May 1922, students only needed 16 units of credit to graduate, but by September that number had changed to 20. El Paso High offered the first music classes in the state and it was also the first to include a modern language, Spanish, in its course of study.

    El Paso High School was also the first in the state to have a student military corps, organized by the district superintendent, Capt. Calvin W. Esterly, a retired Army officer who had graduated from West Point.