The History Behind North Side Senior High

  • What Makes the North Side High School Main Building Unique?


    Opening Day

     (photo courtesy of the Clarkson family)


    The construction of North Side High School in 1937 was part of a twelve school project from the governmental team of Fort Worth ISD, the Public Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration. The lead architect was Wiley G. Clarkson and the designer was Charles O. Chromaster. Construction was completed by the Harry B. Friedman Company at a cost of $459,000 (an equivalent of $7.4 million dollars in 2014).  

    Clarkson also designed alone or with fellow architects many well-known Fort Worth buildings: 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 Meacham Airport Administration Building, Stripling Department Store, John Peter Smith Hospital, McLean Jr. High School (the core of the current Paschal High School), and the original Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. 

    Wiley G Clarkson  (photo courtesy of the Clarkson family)

    Clarkson was best known for his use of the Modern and Art Deco styles of architecture. He used both styles for the North Side High School campus. He combined the Modern Style’s classical forms (Mayan step pyramids, Greco/Roman columns and linear forms and Egyptian pyramids and motifs) with modern construction materials (aluminum, brass, steel, terrazzo flooring and glass), using Art Deco colors of greens, reds, blacks and beige to produce a highly distinctive design.

    You will be able to identify the following Clarkson’s design features as you explore the North Side campus:

    1) The Auditorium - Greek columns, Roman urns, Mayan step pyramids (ceiling lights), Egyptian carvings on the ceiling, use of marble in the foyer, and classic Art Deco colors in 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, 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. 


    North Side Campus

    The North Side High School campus consists of 6 principle structures:  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. 2013 brought the Culinary Wing, a 48,000 square foot facility that houses 17 new classrooms, a writing lab, 4 culinary classrooms, two demonstration kitchens and banquet seating for 150.  

    Two original structures no longer stand 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”. 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.