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Feb 2024 - Treasures of the Museum

While we are in the process of creating the displays for the new GHS Museum, opening this spring, we want to share a few of our historic treasures, too many to name in one column. They are described as they were in the 2021 museum, which we hope to recreate as much as possible in our new location.

The 1920s

The most unique of our treasures are the original double doors.  When the “Castle” was renovated in 2010, we selected items we wanted to have for the museum, including the doors.  Since 2021, the doors have welcomed alumni, students, staff, and community members to the GHS Museum, where they have become the iconic background for visitors as they reminisce about their Foothiller memories. 

Other items from the original school on display include a section of the radiator heaters that heated the original school as well as the Old Main, the 1937 rear classroom building used by GHS English students until 2006; the original upstairs school bell; the original school seal stamp, which was used to stamp diplomas in the 1920s.   In the modern high school office, the original clock welcomes students, staff, and parents to the lobby; it hurried students to classes as it was used to control the bells for several decades.

The 1920s showcase is filled with amazing treasures including large silver plated athletic trophies, which need to be seen to be believed, several shaped as basketballs and footballs. 

Oak Furniture

Unbelievably, we have furniture from the original school.  Two of our three oak teachers work tables have numbered leather tags, confirming their use in the early days of GHS.  The three tables provide a place for students and visitors to experience and relive Foothiller memories as they look through the yearbooks, the student newspapers, and more.

In addition, we have 12 oak student and teacher desk chairs as well as 2 oak teacher desks.  These items were still used by teachers and students in classrooms until we “gathered them up”.  All of the oak furniture has been refinished by Greg Baer, Class of 1973. 

Among our treasures is a piece of the 1937 library card catalogue, which sits atop an oak table, with an oak stool.   The students are fascinated by the way research was done in the “old days”, using cards to locate books that might be what you needed and which might be in the library.

As one of the professional movers who recently moved the oak furniture from storage into the new museum remarked, “These are precious; you can’t find anything like them today.”  They are precious to us as they echo voices from our past.

We have 4 early student desks as well.  The Baer family donated one of them, which matches the desks in drawings and photographs of student desks in Grossmont’s yearbooks.  The desk has a place for an inkwell and student pen as well as a “book nook” underneath the surface.  The desk has a folding seat in the front of it, which would have been the seat for the student sitting at the desk in front.  The desks were lined up in rows, as they are in the museum. 

Our oldest desk has a unique history and was donated to us by Myrtle Pittman Howe, Class of 1941.  Myrtle’s father was the custodian at GHS. One day he brought home a discarded student desk that had been used in the Grossmont Art Department; until 2014 when she donated it to the museum, it was used by the Pittman family.

The desk’s history is quite unique. In 1920, when Grossmont HS opened, the Meridian (Elementary) School District of El Cajon gave it to the school.  The desk is unusual in that it has a wide chair that has indentations for two “small” students to sit as well as cutouts for two inkwells and two places for ink pens to be laid.  When the slanting lid of the desk is lifted inside is space for books, where a few brave students wrote their names, including one with the date of 1940.  We believe the desk dates to the 1880s.

1920s-1930s Student Clothing

In front of the doors, we display two mannequins with girls uniforms, a white middy blouse with a black sash and a white blouse with black shorts and underpants, both in bloomer style, which belonged to Mary Peace Romig Holloway, Class of 1933.  Our friends at the La Mesa Historical Society received them as a donation and in 2010 gave them to us to display.

We also have wonderful early sweaters on mannequins, including a Class of 1928 letterman’s navy blue pullover sweater belonging to Laurie Head, who was a coach and PE teacher at GHS from 1936-1968 and a girls 1939 senior pullover navy blue sweater belonging to Virginia Chandler Cate Mason. 

Obviously, these irreplaceable items capture a time which reminds us of the importance of remembering that while the details of our lives have changed, the human experiences of student life and learning are really not that different.

For information about our Foothiller history and the new 2024 GHS Museum, opening in the spring, email Connie and Lynn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., leave a message at 619-668-6140, or visit our website at