This spring, voters will be asked whether they support a bond for a new high school to the tune of $95 million. Let’s get it out of the way and just say that that is a ton of money.

But it’s not the first time that the Ames community has had to make this decision on whether to build a new high school. Let’s look back at the history of high schools in Ames.

High Schools #1 & #2

In March of 1880, the Ames school board submitted a request to issue bonds for the purpose of building a new school house. They were asking for $10,000. When the votes were counted they had 148 citizens in favor, and only 28 against. The debt was contracted and the first brick school house, known as Central School, was constructed on the west side of Clark Avenue, currently where City Hall is located.

The new building had six large classrooms, two of which were used for high school classes. An addition was built in 1900, but its construction was so shoddy that the addition was condemned in 1910 and removed.

After Bearshear Elementary School was built in 1903 and Welch Elementary School opened in 1906, this building was used exclusively for high school students.

When a new high school was built just across the street in 1911, the original 1880 building eventually became Ames’s first junior high school. Neither building stands today, with the original building being demolished in 1937, and high school #2 being taken down more recently in the 1981.

City Hall Building

In September 1939, a new high school building was opened on the same site as the original 1880 building. It served as the high school for 22 years until our current high school was built in 1961. High School #3 was used as a junior high until 1986, and in 1990, the building was remodeled and is currently being used as the Ames City Hall.

Current High School

In the fall of 1961, the 4th Ames High School opened at 20th and Ridgewood and is the current home to Ames High students. Since 1961, the building has undergone 15 additions and is starting to show its wear.

What will the next Ames high school look like? That remains to be seen, but we feel confident that it will be a great addition to the history of Ames.

Thanks to the Ames Historical Society for the images and historical support.