Many thanks to Carolyn Charles,
retired Park High teacher and official historian of St.
Louis Park Schools, for much of the following information
and pictures. This page is mainly about the building;
for other information, see the
St. Louis Park Senior High School
was built in 1956 at a cost of $3.5 million.
The first mention of a new High School is in the September
8, 1953 Echo, which reports that preliminary plans
are being drawn up. The 17-acre tract at 33rd Street
and Dakota had been owned by the school district for some
time. The land has previously been used as a skating
rink, although some houses had to be removed. The 1930
Census lists Earl
Sewall at 3300 Dakota. The hope was that it would
be ready for the 1955-56 school year but it took another
year. On November 23,
1953, the Village overwhelmingly voted its acceptance of a
$4.2 million school bond issue to build the new Senior High
and what would become Ethel Baston elementary school.
The new High School would "be adequate" for 2,000 students.
Below is the
artist's sketch of the building as published in the November
5, 1953 issue of the Echo.
Preliminary ideas were accepted by the school board on
March 1, 1954. The Echo reported that the building was
to include 30 classrooms, special rooms for sciences,
commercial subjects, speech, dramatics, band, and chorus.
The auditorium would seat 1,000. There would be a
suite of rooms for teaching home management. Rooms
were allocated for the Echo, Echowan, and
student council. The gym would have folding bleachers
that could seat 2,400 fans, and a folding door that would
divide it into two areas, one each for boys and girls.
A swimming pool would be located near the gym.
Northwestern National Bank and First National Bank bought
bonds for the new High School for $1.25 million at 2.81
percent. The new building would be the largest in
Minnesota since World War II. Construction started in
High School construction, 1956
new school opened in the Fall of 1956. The Echo was
relatively low key about it, but did mention its "tipless
desks", curtains that replaced old-fashioned window shades,
and the radiant-heated floor in the 33rd Street lobby.
population of Park High just grew and grew. Teacher
Jack Alwin recalls that when the staff first moved to the
new building from Central they called it "extra-curricular
high" because there were so few classrooms. There was
discussion about building a second high school, as other
suburbs had done. Superintendent Harold Enesdtvedt
prided himself and the school board for their decision to
expand the current building.
In May 1960 the School Board commissioned Bissell & Blair to
build the addition, predicated on a peak enrollment of 2,500
Construction of the "Circle" (initially called
"The Silo") began in July 1961, starting
Park students on a dizzying odyssey around the hallways. It
was designed by Gene Green of Bissel and Blair. Detailed
pictures of its construction are featured in the 1962-63
Echowan. The addition cost $1,350,000 and was designed
to accommodate 800 students. In place, the school could
handle 2,400 students – there were 1,500 in 1960. The
Echowan claimed that this circular addition “was the
first of its kind to be used in the State of Minnesota.”
The so-called "McDonald's wing" was added to the
south side in 1967, at a cost
of $10 million. The two-story addition was used for
vocational training such as advertising, secretarial skills,
machine shop, printing, drafting, nursing, etc. Also new was
an expanded art room, an orchestra room, a distributive
education area, a special computer math room, and a resource room set
aside for the school’s blind students. A new 440-yard track was also
completed. Enrollment was 2,468 students. The addition
was the result of a conscious decision not to build an
additional high school, as other suburbs had done.
In 1993, major remodeling was done to the Media/Technology
Center (library) and the second floor circle. Design flaws
had the outside wall pulling away from the floors, leaving
gaps at the outside edge of some of the third floor
classrooms. A new, accessible front entrance was built as
well. The school has many photos of the 1993
In 2001, the third floor of the 33rd Street side was
remodeled to provide updated science classroom. Also,
additional gym space was added along the railroad tracks.
See the school’s web site at