May 2020 Historic Plaques and Symbols on Campus
Grossmont’s nearly 100 years of history is reflected throughout its campus. For the past 10 years, the campus has been dramatically modernized, but at the same time it celebrates its past, through bronze plaques as well as efforts to preserve signs and symbols of the past.
Class of 1916 Drinking Fountain Plaque in the Upper Quad
Perhaps, the most enigmatic bronze plaque on campus is the one celebrating the Class of 1916’s historic drinking fountain since the first Foothillers graduated in 1921.
“The Class of 1916 donated a drinking fountain, made of granite from a local quarry and inscribed "Class of 1916", to the old El Cajon Valley Union High School. When Grossmont Union High School was established in 1920, the fountain was moved to the Grossmont’s temporary home for its first two years, the closed Riverview campus in Lakeside. When the new Grossmont High School building was opened in 1922, the Class of 1916’s fountain was moved to the new school. For forty years, thousands of Grossmont students drank from the fountain. In 1960 the drinking fountain was buried near its original location as a senior prank. The granite base of the fountain was unearthed in 2008 and refashioned into a decorative fountain.”
Historic Ivy Bronze Plaque in the Lower Quad
“In 1925, the GUHS P.T.A. paid renowned horticulturalist Kate Sessions $350 to landscape the school to ”make Grossmont one of the garden spots of Southern California.” according to the 1925 El Cajon Valley News. Then in April 1926, it stated, “About 500 trees and shrubs have been planted around…the building, a long row of creeping ivy (ficus repens) has been planted in front.” The English ivy from the back of the school planted in the 1930’s is believed to be from Washington Irving’s New York home and originally from Sir Walter Scott’s home in Scotland. During these early years, Algerian ivy was also planted in the rear of the school. Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department assisted in the preservation of the ivy by growing cuttings, which are now planted along the fence in front of you.”
The WPA Bronze Plaques in the Upper Quad
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. 45% of the cost was an outright gift from the government through the WPA, the Works Project Administration with the remainder funded through a community bond. Architect Frank L. Hope designed the building in the art deco style typical of WPA projects.
In 2015, the Class of 1964 funded the replacement of the historic sign that once appeared above the doorway, which 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 commemorating the campus’s historic construction.
There are several other reminders of the WPA’s historic influence on campus: the reconfiguration of the football field from north south to east west alignment, a river rock wall behind the home stands of the Jack Murphy Stadium, the wide and deep cement steps leading to the stadium, the X design of the upper quad sidewalks, and a tennis bench and a bronze plaque commemorating the tennis courts and benches constructed in “Built by the WPA 1935-1936” on the site of the current school office.
The Big G on the Hill
Since its beginning, the letter G has represented Foothiller pride was as a large visual symbol of the campus. As early as the 1930’s, there are photographs of a whitewashed G on a hill near Grossmont.
In 1947-48, the Hi-Y Club (YMCA) built the Big G on the slope in front of the original school made out of shrubs, blooming in colors of blue and gold. During the 1960’s the shrubs were showing their age, but still intermittedly blooming. In 1993, volunteers along with RCP’s Gene Chubb, Class of 1948, replaced the G in the same location with one made of brick and rock.
In the late 1950’s- 1970’s, there was also a large G on Cowles Mountain (with an S for SDSU on the other side). Yearly, as part of a weeklong freshmen initiation, ninth grade students “whitewashed” the G. Today, Bill Woolman, Class of 1962, lovingly cares for the G in front of the original school. If you drive by the G on Murray Dr., don’t be surprised if you see Bill there as he trims, weeds, and rakes to keep it looking its best. Recently, Bill funded a solar light that shines on the G at night, enabling the G to broadcast its Foothiller Pride day and night.
Become Part of Our Historic Campus
Today, there are several opportunities to commemorate yourself, your family, your business, or your class at Grossmont HS. One way is to contribute to our GHS Endowment Fund; your donation of a Foothiller Friend or Founder tile will be commemorated with a gray tile on campus. Visit http://grossmont.donationtiles.com to place an online order.
Another way to commemorate your class, family, or yourself is to purchase a personalized blue bench on campus. Another way is to sponsor a decade showcase in the new GHS Museum. Please email us for more information. Join us as we celebrate our history, which in so many ways reflects our community’s history.