November 2022 - The Castle's 100th Anniversary
One hundred years ago, Grossmont High School’s granite façade “Castle” was completed. Among the oldest high schools in San Diego County, amazingly, Grossmont is the only school to have preserved its original school, which was used by its students until 2006, when it became entirely the GUHSD office.
In 1920 Colonel Ed Fletcher gave most of the land for the school for a $10 fee, along with several lots donated by James and Mary Murray. The architect of the building was T. C. Kistner; the contractor was N.H. Beer.
During its two-year construction, GUHS students attended school at the now closed Riverview HS campus in Lakeside. In September 25, 1922, students first attended classes at Grossmont in the “Castle”. However, the building wasn’t completed until January 13, 1923.
The original Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Grossmont Union High School: August 14, 1920-Dec. 5, 1928, reveal fascinating details of the cost of the building’s construction:
July 21, 1921:
Architect Theo. C. Kistner: paid 6% of $127,405.25 cost of the project for a total of $7644.32
Young and Beer Builders: paid $105,500 plus extra fees for excavating work $325; footings $216.30; foundation walls $471.45; boiler room $1775; balcony truss $227; reinforcing steel $1000.
Southern Electric Co. paid $6447.50.
February 10, 1922
Updated bid for Rohde Bros. plumbing and heating of the “new High School building”: $9100 total for steam heating with pipe covering ($4605) and plumbing of water closets and lavatories ($4495).
San Diego Hardware: $2243 for “all hardware, pursuit to the plans and specifications”
June 20, 1923
While the granite for the exterior of the building was donated by Colonel Ed Fletcher from his nearby granite quarry, there was a charge made for the “extra expense of getting out gray stone of uniform color”, which was partially approved: $1100.
After 90 years of use, from 2012-2014, the interior of the school was modernized and lovingly renovated, preserving the original character and history of the building. One exciting renovation was the reopening of the “rotunda” to allow visitors to walk directly into the back wing, which was originally the auditorium. While the 1937 WPA-funded Old Gym was being built, the 1922 auditorium wing was torn down and remodeled into a two-story classroom building, explaining the stucco exterior of the north wing, which is not encased in granite as the rest of the building.
Today, throughout the renovated building, many of the structural support beams in the ceilings have been exposed, a reminder of the building’s history and a contrast to added steel beams. Further reminders of the building’s 100-year history are the dual glaze replicas in the style of the original windows and the reuse of the 1922 hardwood floors in the hallways.
The GHS Museum has many artifacts from the original school such as the iconic front red double doors, windows, doorknobs, an original school bell, and more. The school’s original 1922 clock hangs on the wall in Grossmont High School office lobby, greeting students, staff, and community as it has for 100 years.
As 1924 yearbook editor Helen Moriarty wrote, “The beauty of the structure gives the students of Grossmont great pride in knowing that their school is a fitting and lasting monument to the patrons of the district.” For 100 years, it has been.
The “Castle” is part of the 2022 La Mesa History Center Home Tour on Saturday, November 5th. We will be available from 9-3 to answer questions, and at 11 GHS Historian Don Ginn will present his Power Point presentation of GHS history from the 1920s-1990s.
For more information and to reserve your ticket, contact LMHC at https://lamesahistory.com or Connie and Lynn at