Stadium High School

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Stadium High School
Tacoma - Stadium High School 03A.jpg
111 North E Street


United States
School typePublic
School districtTacoma Public Schools
CEEB code481395
PrincipalKevin Ikeda
Enrollment1,465 (2016-17)[1]
Campus typeClosed
School color(s)Royal Blue, Gold
NewspaperStadium World

Stadium High School is a public high school in Tacoma, Washington, and a historic landmark. It is part of Tacoma Public Schools, or Tacoma School District No. 10 and is located in the Stadium District, near downtown Tacoma. The original building burned to a shell in 1898 while it was still a partially constructed hotel designed by Hewitt & Hewitt that was being used for storage. It was reconstructed for use as a school beginning in 1906 according to designs by Frederick Heath,[2] and a "bowl" stadium was added later in 1910.


Stadium High School during a 2007 renovation

The main building was constructed by architects Hewitt and Hewitt[3] for the Northern Pacific Railroad Company and the Tacoma Land Company at what was then known as Blackwell Point. Construction began in 1891 with the intention of building a luxury hotel resembling a French château. The Panic of 1893, however, brought construction to an abrupt halt when the Northern Pacific was faced with financial disaster. The unfinished building became a storage facility, with much of the building materials still inside. On October 11, 1898, the building was gutted by a massive fire. The walls remained standing, and the Northern Pacific began to dismantle the structure, removing some 40,000 bricks that would be used to construct still-existing train stations in Missoula, Montana, and Wallace, Idaho.

The Tacoma School District purchased the gutted building on February 19, 1904, with the intent of turning it into a high school. The redesign and later renovations were planned by the school's architect, Frederick Heath.[4] It was repaired and renovated into a school.[5] Despite its extraordinary locale and design, on the inside it looks, feels, and operates like a typical American high school.[6]

The reconstructed building opened on September 10, 1906, as Tacoma High School. Seven years later, the name was changed to reference the adjacent Stadium Bowl. Later additions included a circular lunchroom, an underground swimming pool, a science and industrial arts complex,[5] a gymnasium, and a multi-story parking lot structure with tennis courts on the roof.

The stadium, also designed by Frederick Heath, dates from 1910 and is in a location once known as Old Woman's Gulch. It was originally much grander than it is today, with a seating capacity of 32,000. Among those who spoke there were Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, William Jennings Bryan, and Billy Sunday.[7]

The stadium was originally built in 1909–1910 using steam shovels and sluicing to move more than 180,000 cubic yards (140,000 m3) down the edges of the gulch to create a flat playing field of 2.5 acres (10,000 m2). Wooden molds were built to cast concrete for 31 rows of stadium seating surrounding the playfield.[7]

The original structure exceeded what the soil could support. A restoration project in the 1970s had to sacrifice roughly half of the seating capacity because of instability. In 1981 a burst storm drain washed away the scoreboard and the bayward end zone of the football field. This was followed by a further restoration allowing the stadium to reopen in 1985.[7]

The school was the filming location for many of the scenes of the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

In 2005-2006 the school underwent a major renovation, seismic upgrade, historical restoration, and expansion. Bassetti Architects were the design architects, and Merrit Pardini Architects (later Krei Architecture) were the architects of record for this work.[8] During the renovation, students were temporarily relocated to the old site of Mount Tahoma High School in the south end, just over 7 miles (11 km) away.

The centennial celebration of Stadium High School was held on September 16, 2006. The celebration was attended by 3299 alumni, setting a Guinness World Record for the largest recorded school reunion.[9]

A panorama of the high school and the eponymous stadium, with Commencement Bay in the background (2008)

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Stadium". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  2. ^ [1][permanent dead link] News Tribune
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-02. Retrieved 2005-09-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Metro Parks Tacoma". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b Plaque outside the school, May 22, 1992. Consulted 16 August 2008.
  6. ^ "Stadium High School". Tacoma Schools. Archived from the original on 2014-01-05. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Plaque outside the stadium, May 28, 1993. Consulted 16 August 2008.
  8. ^ Bassetti Architects Archived December 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Guinness World Records Archived November 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Some famous and notable graduates". The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). September 9, 2006.
  11. ^ "The Spokesman-Review - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Approve Starlet's Pact". The Kansas City Times. Missouri, Kansas City. Associated Press. June 18, 1952. p. 28. Retrieved January 18, 2017 – via open access
  13. ^ Eng, Lily (1996-12-19). "Former Captive's Life Troubled". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
  14. ^ Roberts, C.R. (2008-05-07). "Ice cream pioneer Irvine Robbins got start in Tacoma". The News Tribune. Retrieved 2008-05-12.[dead link]
  15. ^ Sailor, Craig (2018-05-25). "China's American hero pilot honored at Stadium High Memorial Day ceremony". The News Tribune. Retrieved 2019-01-02.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°15′58″N 122°26′53″W / 47.26623°N 122.44816°W / 47.26623; -122.44816