Building History

Until the erection of the North Union school building in 1849 on the site (McMorran Auditorium), the “Old Brown Schoolhouse” remained the only school on the north side of the river. The first school was built on the south side of Black river in 1842 on the west side of Court square and was destroyed by fire in 1859. It contained two rooms. The east room was for advanced pupils and in 1857 was taught by William Roach. It was unorganized as a formal high school but U.S. Congressman Ezra C Child was one such claimant to have graduated from this school. This image is of this first school house located on the corner of Court and 7th.

The Washington School was completed in 1859-1860 which was next to the property of the former school house. It was on 7th St between Court and Wall. This is not the same Washington School many of us know today on 10th St. When Washington Jr High was built this former school was renamed Taylor. In 1859 Port Huron High School was founded in the basement of this Washington School seen in this image here.

In the 1868-1869 school year, there were 64 students enrolled at Port Huron High School. The senior class had four members. An admission fee of 25 cents was paid by anyone who wanted to attend the graduation. James T. Atkinson was the first to receive his diploma. He was also the valedictorian of his class. The other three students who received diplomas were Alice Skinner, William Boyce and Charles Stockwell. There were 64 students enrolled in the high school in the 1868-69 school year.

A new high school on Erie Street was built in 1870 and was destroyed by fire in February of 1873. The following year a new high school was built on the same spot, doing service for about 30 years when it too was destroyed by fire on May 29, 1906. Three hundred students were attending school at this time.

School was held for two more years in the Sanborn House on the present site of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Two years after the fire in 1908, the third high school was built on the same site as the former high school. The Board of Education constructed a new building in 1908 at a cost of $120,000. This building occupied the same space as the former two buildings. In 1925, an addition was made to the high school. During the same year, the old civic auditorium on Broad Street was bought and rebuilt for a gymnasium and auditorium. The high school complex was valued now at $420,000.

With increases of enrollment over the years, the high school building was vacated and a new modern one-story complex was started in 1955. The new PHHS was located on a 45-acre plot on on Court and 24th Street. This new building cost $1,800,000. The student body moved from the old building (which is now St. Clair Community College) to the present site of Port Huron High on January 28, 1957. At that time, it would have been difficult to imagine that in just a few years this beautiful building would be too small.

The land where the Port Huron High School buildings were built, was once part of the Black River Ojibwa Native American Reservation.

Continued population growth required drastic measures to be taken to relieve the pressures in the intermediate schools. In 1962 PHHS went on double sessions. School started at 7:00 a.m. and ran until 5:30 p.m. The high school student population reached an all-time high of 3,585 students in 1964.

During this period of double sessions, a new sister school was being constructed at the north end of the city. Port Huron Northern opened in February of 1965. Some 1,700 students moved into this building–thus allowing both schools to return to a near normal day.