Majestic. It’s just one of the many ways to describe Stadium High School in Tacoma, WA. The school — originally intended to be a luxury hotel — is rich in history and rich in architectural design.
The two financial backers, Northern Pacific Railroad Co. and Tacoma Land Co., had high hopes for their hotel when they began construction in 1891.
“The hotel was to be so grand, so elegant, so ornate, so artful, so elaborate, so huge, so splendid that other grand hotels would blush with shame at their own silly pretensions,” according to HistoryLink.org.
Grand Plan Falls Apart
The developers, however, ended up being the ones blushing with shame: The would-be hotel never opened because the railroad’s money dried up. The building stood empty for several years until the Tacoma School District rescued it from demolition.
What then was called Tacoma High School opened in 1906. It assumed its current name in 1913. The school’s waterfront football stadium, known as the Stadium Bowl, was dedicated in 1910.
Today, the lovely and sturdy brick-and-limestone school — dubbed the Brown Castle for its castle-style design — is a national historic landmark. The campus offers spectacular views of Commencement Bay, part of Puget Sound, and served as a movie set for 1999’s “10 Things I Hate About You,” starring Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julia Stiles.
Most Picturesque High School Campuses
Based on its mix of splendid scenery and grand architecture, Stadium High School tops our list of the 14 Most Picturesque High School Campuses in the U.S. But it’s got some close rivals. Check out our rankings below and see whether you think these campuses make the grade.
1. Stadium High School
Why We Like It: This bayside campus is picture-perfect.
2. George Washington High School
San Francisco, CA
Why We Like It: How can you not like a killer view of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge?
Photo: Shaw Sports Turf
3. Monument Mountain Regional High School
Great Barrington, MA
Why We Like It: Two words — “monument” and “mountain.”
4. Monument Valley High School
Oljato–Monument Valley, UT
Why We Like It: Soaring red-rock formations serve as a stunning backdrop.
Photo: Chat Sports
5. Mission High School
San Francisco, CA
Why We Like It: It’s adjacent to Dolores Park, which delivers a panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline. On top of that, the school’s bell tower is an architectural landmark.
Photo: Ideias Na Mala
6. American Canyon High School
American Canyon, CA
Why We Like It: The 45-acre campus is surrounded by the eye-popping landscape of Napa Valley.
7. Marysville Getchell High School
Why We Like It: The campus sits in a lush forest, with mountains visible on the horizon.
Photo: Cascade Design Collaborative
8. Lake Forest High School
Lake Forest, IL
Why We Like It: The ivy-covered façade and expansive lawn exude classic charm.
Photo: Jean Wright Real Estate
9. Diamond Ranch High School
Why We Like It: The modern, edgy buildings are dramatically situated on a hillside campus that affords a mountain view.
Photo: The Red List
10. El Paso High School
El Paso, TX
Why We Like It: Built in the Greco-Roman architectural style and standing near the Franklin Mountains, historic El Paso High School commands your attention. Adding to the allure: It’s said to be haunted.
11. Little Rock Central High School
Little Rock, AR
Why We Like It: Little Rock Central High School, which covers two city blocks, blends the Collegiate Gothic and Art Deco architectural styles; the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture praises the school’s “utilitarian design and quality construction.” More important that its beauty: Central High played a crucial role in the desegregation of public schools in the U.S. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo: Little Rock School District
12. Lakeside High School
Lake Elsinore, CA
Why We Like It: Mountains and palm trees. Need we say more?
Photo: City of Lake Elsinore
13. City High School
Iowa City, IA
Why We Like It: The red-brick hilltop school, which dates back to the late 1930s, features a classic bell tower and a massive lawn.
Photo: Twitter/John Bacon
14. Betty H. Fairfax High School
Why We Like It: Highlights of this sleek, modern campus include gorgeous landscaping and mountain views.
Photo: MIIM Designs