Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Placerville No. 9 - El Dorado County High School, Clay Street

Good morning. Gold Country Sis Tina here. This post is about an old school which no longer exists, the El Dorado County High School. I am going to share old postcards I have collected which show the building, plus a few recent photos. I would like to thank our fairly new "lurker" Jim of Camino for giving me the incentive for this post. I am hoping after he reads it he can "jog on by" the old site and see where it once used to sit. He contacted me recently after finding a post I did here on Gold Country Girls on August 18, 2010 about schools that no longer exist.
Starting out with a Christmas card showing the high school, sent to Rose Birk of St. Louis, Missouri in December 1910.

This card above was published by Edw.H. Mitchell S. F. Cal. for S. Inch & Son, Placerville. It was sent to Miss Madge Spurlig of Steuben, Maine in 1906.

This card was sent to Miss Flora McGraw of Slatington, El Dorado Co., Cal (now Kelsey) in January 1908. Published by S. Inch & Son, Placerville.

Card above sent to G. Willis Cline of San Jose, Cal. in August 1910. Photo by G. W. Potter. Made in Germany.

This is the first postcard I have showing the steps up to the school from Clay Street. Somewhere I have information about the steps. Unfortunately I am not sure where that info is. I remember that the steps were a gift from one of the graduating classes of the school.

This postcard (above) was made by the Western Card Company, Reedley, Fresno Co., Calif. It is unmailed, handwritten on the back is "1920".

This card says "Placerville High School, Placerville, Calif." It was mailed to Mrs. Fred Lambert of San Francisco, Calif. on May 12, 1923.

Now a little journey towards the old site of the school. These are photos I took April 2nd. This photo above is taken as I drove west down Lincoln Alley. To reach Lincoln Alley take Coleman street either west from Bedford Avenue or east from Clay Street. Turn onto Lincoln Street going south, and on your left after several great old homes is Lincoln Alley. It takes you steeply down to Clay Street. Across Clay is Grandview Street, which takes you up to where the old Welfare Dept. building is located. Under the building at the back, facing again to Clay Street was the old Soil Conservation Service office. This is located in approximately the same area as where the high school was.

This photo above shows the back of the Welfare building and some of the steep area going up to it from Clay Street.

This is the stop sign at the end of Lincoln Alley.

Looking east from Clay Street as you turn right towards Main Street and the Highway 50 underpass.

Going south on Clay Street, hillside where high school was on left.

Yes, you too can lease a very steep piece of Placerville history.

In my August 2010 blog I said "I believe at least part of the steps are still there". So I tried to take some pictures to show you what I believe are the school steps.

I tried to take a picture of what I think are the old steps, they are almost completely covered with weeds and briars. Probably blackberry bushes, this being Placerville after all! The right bottom of the photo shows old cement that is at the bottom of the steps. There is a foggy blur in the center of my photos that is either something wrong with my camera or an old Placerville ghost trying to be helpful and point out the steps to me. The steps run up through the middle of the photo just beyond the tree.

This is the cement base of the steps. I am not very mobile yet, after my hip surgery in December, so I just took photos from my car. If someone could climb up the hill a bit, a picture could be taken of steps going up the hill. You can see some of them, but most appear to have crumbled and have weeds and grass growing through them.

This postcard above, photo by Atchison, was postmarked in Placerville on October 4, 1915. It reads in part on the back "This is where Earl and Irma are going to "high". They are just doing fine and we are very proud of them". Signed by Florence. Someone has written "72 steps" along the steps to the school. The home below the school is known as the Blair house and is still standing.

Close up of the steps and showing the location next to Blair house on the right.

Above is an old photo of the Blair House from the El Dorado County Museum. The steps are hidden in the trees to the left. This house was being operated last year as the Blair Sugar Pine Bed and Breakfast, but closed its doors on October 31, 2011, and was sold.

Another old photo of the Blair house. The Welfare building is in the upper corner on the left.

And one more of the Blair house. The steps would be off to the left. So if you want to find them now, walk up Clay Street to the north from Main Street. Go under the highway overpass, past the Blair house on the right, and just past that look for a cement structure covered in briars. If you are hardy and have on thick boots and sturdy jeans, I think maybe you can actually stand on a few of the old stairs.

Good luck and welcome to Gold Country Girls, Jim of Camino.


Heidi Ann said...

I LOVE these historical posts, Tina! Keep 'em coming! Sorry it's gone, and of course, I'm also so sorry that our own wonderful old high school building is gone, too. We will always have our memories, though! And pictures.

yosemite faith said...

great post tina. i cannot imagine walking up those steps to go to school.

Lorlore said...

Great post!!! I want to go check out those steps!!!!

Sponge Curlers and Cupcakes said...

Great post Tina! I adore our Calif history & especially that from our foothills. The cards are simply fascinating - where did you find all of them?! Thank you for all your work.
P.S. Now that the spring is coming & good weather and you're motating so well on that new bionic hip, we MUST plan our first get together!

Anonymous said...


What a fun presentation. I loved “Jim in Camino” being cited as your inspiration. I was up on Lincoln Street & Alley just last week. I had thought that the Blair House was the beautiful home below the old high school in the first photo that you posted, August 2010. I went up the hill on the opposite side hoping for a panorama similar to the one the photo had captured. Yes, there are beautiful old homes up there. Being on foot and peering between them in search of the old high school site is mighty suspicious behavior as far as neighborhood-watch is concerned. A few folks approached me from those beautiful homes, but they didn’t look at all as though they were preparing for a friendly welcome. For fear of being shot, I quickly down-sloped back onto Clay.

The 2010 photo seemed to show the concrete steps rising steeply, perpendicular to Clay—as though they were rising from around where the “For Lease” sign is now. The present photos you took, Tina, (Hey, thanks!) seemingly indicate that the steps rose at a 45 degree angle from Clay, angling away from the Blair house as they rose. I don’t know.

Long lens compression and 100 years of changing hillside might account for my bit of confusion there. But I now have a detailed, illustrated guide to take me to the old high school steps. As Lorlore exclaimed, “Great post!!! I want to go check out those steps!!!!” And I will.

I’ve apparently walked on the site of the old high school. Grandview Street is a favorite run-up (before hugging the flagpole near the top as I await signs that I’ll recover and remain intact and not litter earthly remains, which is exactly what such run-ups are intended to prevent, for a time—long time.)

Is LorLore Lori? My wife’s name is Lori. She thinks it’s odd that I get excited about such things as 100-year-ago local history. She thinks it maddening when I’m truly possessed and carry on like a goof about it. (Is it treatable?)

Hey, I’m presently trying to convince our computer that we have a new email client. It’s confused, thus our addy is not in my profile yet.

Meantime: mtnacre “at” comcast “dot” net .... I also might try emailing instead of pinch-blogging vast wordage on your site.

Thanks Tina, Jim (the one in Camino, but you knew that j;O))

lorlore said...

Yep, Jim, I am a Lori, Lorlore was our Dad's nickname for me!!!