In 1884, the little community of Marine, located near what today is the intersection of North Main and Central Avenue, the Marine Community was the beginning of what would become North Fort Worth, Texas. This school named the North Fort Worth High School provided a basic education in the 3 R's for the small community north of the Trinity River.
The Marine School was a one room edifice which met the needs of the tiny, but growing community. That building was located in the 1600 block of North Commerce Street. It has survived to this day, and is now located in Log Cabin Village on University.
As the town grew and became the city of North Fort Worth, a new school was needed.
The second structure to serve as a school to the children of the town was located at North Main and 16th Street. The site was directly across 16th Street from the Catholics Men’s Club and sat where a Park and Ride parking lot now is located. All of these early schools educated all grade levels in just one building. In 1909, the first football team of North Fort Worth High was sponsored and thus began the illustrious football history of North Fort Worth High School.
The school's colors of maroon and white were adopted in 1911. The year 1913 was an important year because of the following events that took place: the first basketball team was organized; The LASSO, the school's annual , was published; and, the North Side High School of Fort Worth Alumni Association was organized.
The growth of the Stockyards in the first decade of the 20th century caused the building of the third structure which was the first to be called North Side High School, in 1914. It was situated on 21st Street on what is now the playground of Manuel Jara Elementary School. The name plate from the old building, which was razed when Jara was built, is displayed on 21st Street in front the playground.
The year 1919 saw the building of a new structure on what is the campus of J.P. Elder Middle School. Currently called the “Elder Annex" on Park and Lincoln, it served as North Side High School until the current building on McKinley Avenue was opened in the Fall of 1938. In 1922, the school's Alma Mater was written by Otsie Betts. By October, 1923, all North Siders were branded as steers, and the first school newspaper, THE LARIAT, was published. The following year the chapter of the National Honor Society was recognized.
In September, 1937, North Side moved once again to a new building an its current location on McKinley Ave with an enrollment of 1,164. The 15 acre North Side High School campus was a joint project between the Fort Worth ISD, the Public Works Administration (PWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the United States Government. Building this school was part of a 12 school project from this governmental team. The lead architect at the North Side project was Wiley G. Clarkson and its designer was Charles O. Chromaster. Construction was completed by the Harry B. Friedman Company at a cost of $459,000 ($7.6 million in current dollars, 2000). The goal of the New Deal programs was to put as much money into circulation as possible to help stimulate the lagging economy of the Depression Era. It is because of that practice that this astronomical figure (for the time period) was advanced to produced this extremely expensive building.
In addition to his work on the nationally renowned art deco project at North Side High School, Clarkson also designed in Fort Worth, the Masonic Temple on Henderson & West Lancaster, TCU’s Mary Couts-Burnett Library, the Trinity Episcopal Church, the Sanger Building, the Downtown YMCA, the First Methodist Church, the original Cook Children’s Hospital, Harris Methodist Hospital, the Sinclair Building, the Meachem Airport Administration Building, Stripling Department Store, John Peter Smith Hospital, McLean Jr. High School (the core of the current Paschal High School) and worked with three other architects in designing the original Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Clarkson was best known for his use of the “Modern” style of architecture in Fort Worth and it’s successor Art Deco. Modern Style combined classical forms (Mayan step pyramids, Greco/Roman columns and linear forms and Egyptian pyramids and motifs) along with modern construction materials (aluminum, brass, steel, terrazzo flooring and glass) coupled with the Art Deco colors of greens, reds, blacks and beige to produce a highly distinctive design. As you view this building look for the Art Deco appointments:
1) the Auditorium - Greek columns, Roman urns, Mayan step pyramids (ceiling lights), Egyptian carvings on the ceiling, use of marble in the foyer, classic colors of the designs and decoration
2) the Hallways - Greek columns in the center hall, terrazzo floors, Art Deco color schemes, leather covered doors to the auditorium, center hall lighting fixture in Mayan step pyramids and hand laid tile wainscoting in the hallways and restrooms.
3) the exterior - linear classical features of Greek and Roman architecture, the Egyptian and Mayan motif carvings above the doorways, the copper Egyptian pyramid on the top of the building and the suggested Roman columns of the building capstones along the roof line.
The North Side High School campus consists of 6 principle structures. They are the three storied main building (completed in 1938), the field house complex and the Tech Lab/Auto Mechanics building (added in the latter 1950s), the one story “middle wing”, the Pete Campbell Activity Center/Gymnasium (opened in 1987) and the new two story building (completed in the Spring of 2002). In addition to the permanent structures there are several “temporary” portable buildings, the numbers and locations of which change from time to time based on the growth of the community and needs of the student body. Also on this campus are a football/soccer field that was part of the original 1937 construction project , a baseball field (built in 1996) and a softball diamond completed in 2001. Two original structures no longer stand in evidence on the campus. A 50' X 50' shelter house, located on the bluff overlooking the Trinity River Valley (present location of the baseball field scoreboard) was razed in 1979. The only remaining evidence of the shelter house is the concrete relief carvings of four steer heads that appear above the outside middle doorways of the “middle wing”. Though still present, just out of sight, an 800 seat amphitheater added to the beauty of the front lawn. Located just beyond the left field fence of the baseball field, the amphitheater was covered with construction debris in 1978, when the administration at the time determined that it’s broken seats were too dangerous to allow to exist in their deteriorated condition and too expensive to restore.
Historical information was provided by Mr. Dan Lamb, a long time history teacher at North Side High School.