Downtown High School – San Francisco CA

Project type: Education and Health, Schools
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The Public Works Administration (PWA) funded a major rebuild of the former Patrick Henry Elementary School (now the Downtown High School) in San Francisco, California. In December 1933, the San Francisco Board of Education decided to remodel the 3-story, wooden Patrick Henry Elementary School for seismic reasons and the work was carried out in 1935-36, replacing much of the old school with an elegant Moderne structure. In the 1950s, the rest of the old school was torn down and rebuilt to match the 1930s additions.

According to Verplanck & Graves (p. 109):

“The remodel, designed by architects Gardner A. Dailey and Wilbur D. Peugh, entailed removing the third floor and constructing a new reinforced-concrete classroom wing and entrance pavilion at the southwest corner of the property, at 19th and Vermont streets. The addition was designed in the Late Moderne style with a spare amount of Art Deco ornament above the main entrance. In the early 1950s, the Board of Education demolished the remaining wood-frame section of the school north of the entrance pavilion and built a new reinforced-concrete wing matching the 1935-36 addition. The campus, which appears not to have undergone any substantial changes since the 1950s, now houses Downtown High School.” 

This project was part of a sweeping effort by the PWA and the State of California to rebuild schools in the wake of the Long Beach earthquake of 1933, which had devastated so many school buildings in Southern California.  The Field Act of 1933 upgraded seismic codes, forcing districts around the state to rebuild schools.


Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

National Archives and Records Administration, Box 386, Reel 4604-4605

Christopher ver Planck and Donna Graves, Draft San Francisco New Deal Historic Context Statement: Rebuilding the City, 1933-1943. For Historic Planning Commission, Department of City Planning, San Francisco CA. 2020. p. 109

Project originally submitted by Gray Brechin on July 13, 2010.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

693 Vermont Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Coordinates: 37.7615, -122.404

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