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The School on the Hill banner

Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, Florida is a rare and
unique educational institution with a long and colorful history. In the late
1890's, the schools in this area were primarily one room classrooms
located along the shores of Lake Worth. As the number of students
increased in grades one through twelve, the town recognized the need for
a central school with a high school facility. 

Around 1900 this school was located in a little four-room school house
at Clematis and Dixie. The high school was named Palm Beach High and
the first graduating class was in 1907. During this time, the population of
West Palm Beach grew from 564 in 1900 to 1,743 in 1910.

By 1908, it was again recognized that larger facilities were needed and
this "central school" was moved to the largest and most modern
educational edifice in southeast Florida. At a construction cost of $50,000, it was built "on the hill" at Hibiscus and Georgia Streets, west of downtown, on land donated by Ellen Potter. 

The principle designer, W.W. Maughlin, used the Mediterranean
Revival style which was popular at that time in south Florida buildings,
both public and private. The old city school became the Palm Beach
County courthouse in 1909 when the Florida legislature created Palm
Beach County from the north end of Dade County.

Some of the children attending here walked to school—which was in
the middle of wilderness—and others were brought by horse drawn wagon. They all piled into the single, two-story building with its distinctive, tall tower. Large classrooms lined each side the wide central hallways on both floors. In 1928, one of south Florida's worst hurricanes took its toll on the school building, completely destroying the tower. The tower was never rebuilt.

By 1922, there were three school buildings on the hill. Central Junior
High was built in 1915 just south of the original building, which became
the elementary school. Palm Beach High School's main building was
designed by William Manly King, and was built in the hill to the north of
the elementary school building in 1922. 

Over the years other buildings were added to house various needs. A
vocational educational building was constructed just behind the high
school building, with shop facilities located across the street. Farther down the hill, an ample auditorium was constructed, with an attached choir and band building which adjoined the football field. To the rear of the
elementary building, an addition housed more elementary classrooms
and a large cafeteria. Eventually, two separate gymnasiums were built. 
The total area consumed by the "School on the Hill" eventually exceeded
two whole city blocks sprawling from Georgia Avenue on the east, to
Tamarind Avenue on the west, and from Gardenia Street on the north, to
Iris Street on the south.

The last Palm Beach High School senior class graduated in the spring
of 1970. The next fall, integration brought the end of Palm Beach High
and Roosevelt High when the two historic schools were combined into a
new entity on the hill, called Twin Lakes High School. Roosevelt High
eventually became a middle school. Twin Lakes High opened in the old
school building in the fall of 1970, but moved into its new building located
on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in January 1989. The county school board threatened to tear down the old buildings, but fortunately never did. The old, original school buildings on the hill were restored and in 1997, received a new life as the
Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts.

Original article authored in June 2001 by Ann Anstis

On the city's western border
Reared against the sky,
Proudly stands our alma mater,
Dear old Palm Beach High.

Into the world we soon will travel
After school is done;
Still will stand our Alma Mater
Proudly looking on.

Sing her praises, send them upward
Over hill and dale;
Here's to thee dear Palm Beach High School
Hail to thee, all hail!

Lallie B. McKenzie, Glee Club Director, is credited for writing the lyrics to our Alma Mater; date of composition is unknown.

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