Photo by Dan Perez, property of

Hillsborough High School is one of the South's oldest high schools and the oldest high school in Hillsborough County.  Over the years, Hillsborough High School has earned some nicknames. "Harvard on the Hill" originates partly from the fact that Hillsborough High School was built on one of the highest geographical elevations in Tampa at the time, had graduated many illustrious people, and emulated many of Harvard's traditions with regard to its alma mater and school color scheme--a crimson shade of red and black, and the big letter H.

  Later, Hillsborough High also picked up the nickname "Peyton Place," probably sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, because the opening scene of the tower in the popular Peyton Place television soap opera somehow reminded some individuals of Hillsborough High's clock tower, and also because as one teacher put it, "it seemed there was always some sort of soap opera going on at the school."

Hillsborough High School was officially "Hillsborough County High School" up until 1927 when the county opened another high school, H. B. Plant.  However, it was commonly referred to as "Hillsborough High" way before the official name change.

Did you know?  A HILLSBOREAN is a person but the yearbook is the HILSBOREAN (one "L").



Rex's new book on the history of Hillsborough High School was released Sept. 2014.  A must for all Terrier alumni!


Lewis Rex Gordon


Special thanks to HHS historian Lewis Rex Gordon, author of "History of Hillsborough High School", for his permission to use his findings, and his assistance and advice on the information presented in this feature.

In the Sunland Tribune, Volume XII November, 1986 the article "Hillsborough High School:  The First One Hundred Years" , begins with:

"In the beginning, Hillsborough High School was a department of the Tampa Graded School System which was organized in 1885. It began in a livery stable on Franklin Street with nineteen students and one teacher, Mr. B.C. Graham, who also served as the principal. The first four students graduated in 1886." 

For many years, this account was practically etched in stone.   But in 2003, evidence was discovered that would rewrite some of the commonly accepted history of Hillsborough County's oldest high school.  Ironically, the new evidence was, in a way, found in stone--a cornerstone.

The revelation came in the form of a document written in 1911 by a Hillsborough High School student named Doris Geraldine Hill.  Written on lined paper, it was rolled into a scroll, tied with a red and black ribbon and placed into the cornerstone of the newly-built school at 2708 Highland Avenue.  There it sat until 92 years later, when the building was being restored, the cornerstone was removed and opened. 

Inside the cornerstone time capsule was a copper box with a list of the contents, on Board of Public Instruction letterhead.

  1. History of High School by Doris Hill

  2. Copy of minutes of school board

  3. Copy of Hymns rendered at Occasion

  4. Course of study

  5. Autograph list of pupils attending High School

  6. Names of Faculty

  7. Copy of Tampa Tribune

  8.   "     "     "       Times

  9. Invitation to Hillsboro Lodge 25

  10. Copy of School Law

  11. Invitation to Capt. George N. Lynch to deliver address at the laying of cornerstone of Hillsboro High School

  12. Copy of Proceedings of Grand Lodge of Florida F. & A.M., 1910

  13. Coins

  14. List of officers Grand Lodge

Photo by Dan Perez, property of


Read about the items that were placed in the cornerstone time capsule before it was put back in its place.


Doris Geraldine Hill graduated with high honors in 1912.  She was called the most studious girl in her class, enjoyed music, having fun, and giving to others.

Doris' history was written at a time when many, if not all of the founders of Hillsborough County education system were still living and available for interview.  It begins as follows:


The History of the Hillsborough County High School

Compiled by Doris Hill

February 15, 1911

The laying of the cornerstone of our new high school means so much to us. It means that the building to which we have looked forward to for so long is now in the course of erection. In 1905, the school paper expressed the need of another building, and the pupils of the school have been longing for it for all these years. Now, when we are about to realize our hopes, let us look back over the history of the High School.

For the rest of this feature, the cornerstone history will be divided accordingly over the various locations mentioned, and combined with the First One Hundred Years history and E. L. Robinson's History of Hillsborough County.



Mention of public schools in Tampa exist in various records as early as the 1850s and counts of the student population exist as early as 1866.  In 1868, the State of Florida's constitution provided for a board of public instruction, and in the same year, Hillsborough County elected a County Board of Public Instruction and a superintendant.  By 1870, a school was in operation in city hall. 

Continuous records exist of the Board's meetings, starting in the county courthouse on Dec. 10, 1871, at which time the Board of Education recognized that a teacher must have some sort of qualifications other than a willingness to teach.  The Board,  consisting of Chairman John T. Givens, T. K. Spencer and F. Branch, and W. F. White, Superintendant and Secretary, appointed a committee to examine and to "certificate" teachers. 

By 1876, enough funds had been raised to build the first public school in Tampa.  Built by John T. Givens and his son, Darwin Branch Givens, the building faced Franklin St. between Madison and Twiggs.



Before the Doris Hill cornerstone history was found, the accepted account of the school's founding was as follows:

In the beginning, Hillsborough County High School was a department of the Tampa Graded School System which was organized in 1885. It began in room over a livery stable on Franklin Street with nineteen students and one teacher, Benjamin Chalmers Graham (B.C. Graham), who also served as the principal.  The first four Hillsborough County High School students graduated in 1886.

Doris Hill's history written in 1911 reveals that the high school had it's beginning three years earlier, with a female principal, and no mention of a stable:

The Hillsborough County High School was a department of the Tampa School No. 1, which was located on Franklin Street, north of the Court House. A High School course was introduced for the first time in 1882. At this time, Mrs. Mary Cuscaden was principal, and Mr. Wesley P. Henderson was County Superintendent. Mrs. Cuscaden was principal for two years. In 1884, she was succeeded by Dr. Raymond, and in 1885, the latter was followed by Mr. B.C. Graham.

So the first high school courses in Tampa began in 1882 at Tampa School No. 1, a structure built in 1876 by John Givens and his son, Darwin, on the 500 block of Franklin Street, between Madison and Twiggs Streets.  This is the block just north of the county courthouse.

The Sanborn Fire Insurance map at left is from 1892, the earliest year that any area north of Madison St. is depicted on the Sanborn maps.

In E. L. Robinson's "History of Hillsborough County" published in 1928, he states that the schoolhouse was located "where the Shaw-Clayton bookstore is now."  Tampa's 1927 city directory shows this bookstore was located at 509 Franklin St.

The school's location was approximately the middle of the block of Franklin St., on the east side of the street around where this map shows "B & S". Since yellow structures were wood frame buildings and the pink ones were brick, the old wooden school building was apparently torn down and replaced by the brick structures seen here in 1892.

According to HHS historian Rex Gordon, the belief that the school started in a livery stable is a result of misreading E. L. Robinson's later History of Hillsborough County.  Robinson's history names a later location of the high school as being in Maj. Wright's building which was originally a brick livery stable on the northwest corner of Florida Ave. and Madison Street.  Robinson never says that the school began in a livery stable.


The first Hillsborough Lodge building was built on what is known as the corner of Whiting and Franklin Streets, Downtown Tampa, in 1851.
Photo from Hillsborough Lodge No. 25 History

A photo that is often used to depict the livery stable location clearly shows a wooden structure with no access for horses and, is in fact, not a stable but the first home of the Hillsborough Masonic Lodge. (A fact also verified by the Hillsborough Masonic Lodge website, which shows the same image as their first home on the corner of Whiting and Franklin St.)

The existence of an 1886 high school diploma, which when one considers would have been awarded after a four-year high school education, places the school's founding in 1882, the same year given in Doris Hill's history.  This, and her mention of two principals before B.C. Graham, indicate that the school did not start in a livery stable nor did it start in 1885. 



Marietta Cuscaden, Hillsborough County High School's first principal

Marietta (a.k.a. Mary Etta) Cuscaden was the mother of early Tampa citrus grove grower Arthur Weston Cuscaden, for whom Cuscaden Park and swimming pool in Ybor City are named.  The park and the pool are located on the site of Arthur Cuscaden's former groves.

Marietta Mastick Cuscaden was born in Ohio on April 10, 1834.  According to the 1850 U.S. Federal census, she was 16, living at home in Claridon Township, Geauga County, Ohio, with her father Owen Mastick, 47, and her mother Harriet, 45. Living in the same home were her sisters Elizabeth, 19; Lavinnia, 11; brothers Julius, 14, and B. Mastick, 6. Her father was born in Vermont, a typical starting point for many of Northeast Ohio’s settlers. Her mother, Harriet, was born in Connecticut. All their children were born in Ohio.

On Sept. 2, 1858, Marietta Mastick married Thomas W. Cuscaden in Claridon, Ohio.  Thomas was a highly-esteemed physician in Warren County, Ohio and was well-known for being the first resident homoeopathist in the county.  Thomas and Marietta's son, Arthur, was born in 1859 in Claridon, Ohio. 

On the 1860 census of Lebanon, Ohio, Thomas W. Cuscaden was a physician, Marietta was a teacher, age 25, and their son, Arthur was 1 year old.  In 1862, Thomas and Marietta had a daughter named Mary. 




Thomas Cuscaden died before 1870 and on that census Marietta was 34, still working as a teacher, and living in Claridon with her parents and her children Arthur W. Cuscaden, age 10, and daughter Mary, age 8.

Special thanks to Rex Gordon who obtained the rare photo of Marietta and the following information from Jennifer S. Morrow, M. A. Hiram College Archivist Hiram College Archives/Special Collections:

Marietta Cuscaden photo from Hiram College Archives

Marietta Cuscaden served as Lady Principal of Hiram College from 1871-76. According to Francis Marion Green’s Hiram College and Western Reserve Eclectic Institute: Fifty Years of History 1850-1900, the Lady Principal was responsible for the “interests and conduct of the young women in the school” (36). Cuscaden’s name first appears in the list of faculty in the Annual Catalogue of Hiram College for the year ending June 1872. That same source notes that Cuscaden also headed the Department of English Studies, whose courses included Grammar, Descriptive Geography, and Arithmetic. The catalogue noted that Cuscaden “is aided by competent assistants.” In describing Mrs. Cuscaden the catalogue notes that she “brings to her position a large and successful experience as an educator.” In the 1872 catalogue, the department that Mrs. Cuscaden headed was renamed the Department of Higher English. The description of her qualifications now includes the statement “...she having been identified for several years with public schools of Ohio.” In addition to teaching the courses listed for her department, Cuscaden is listed as teaching Algebra and Botany.



When Marietta completed her tenure at Hiram College in 1876, she and her children moved to Florida.  Marietta's son, Arthur, came to Tampa in 1878 and by 1880 was in the citrus business, with orange groves in the area that would become Ybor City. In 1890, he married Frances Robles, daughter of Tampa pioneers Joseph and Mary Ann Robles.  Marietta probably came to Tampa with her son or shortly thereafter and took the position of the first principal of Hillsborough County High School in 1882.  She was the Principal for 2 years until 1884.   More about the Robles family in Tampa

In 1884, Marietta bought 80 acres of land in Township 29 south, Range 19 east--the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter, and the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter in section 3.  Today, this land is just southwest of the Eastlake Mall where 50th street curves into 56th Street.

Township 29 south, Range 19 east outlined in yellow.

Close up of Section 3 showing Marietta's property today.
Place your cursor on the image to see satellite view

The 1885 state census of Florida lists widowed, 50-year-old Marietta Cuscaden as a teacher, living with her 24-year-old daughter Mary, who was a music teacher, and their 36-year-old male servant, living in an unincorporated area of Hillsborough County, surrounded by farmers.





By 1900, Marietta served as the secretary for the Tampa branch of the American Theosophical Society.  The society was founded in 1875 in New York City and was dedicated to promoting the unity of humanity; to foster religious and racial understanding by encouraging the study of religion, philosophy and science; and to further the discovery of the spiritual aspect of life and of human beings.  Marietta lived a long life, through all the subsequent locations of Hillsborough High School, and died at age 93 in Tampa, in early Sept. of 1927.

More about Arthur Cuscaden and Cuscaden Park and Pool



In 1885, the School Board sold the school property on the 500 block of Franklin St. to Sparkman and Sparkman (which in 1911 was known as Sparkman block), and purchased an entire block on Jefferson Street, between Henderson Street and Estelle Street.   (Ybor's 6th Ave. was called Henderson St. north of downtown).  Under the guidance of Superintendant William B. Henderson, a new 8-room schoolhouse was built on this property on Jefferson St. at a cost of $4,735 for the purpose of teaching elementary and high school classes.   In 1911 this location was known as the Sixth Avenue Grammar School.

1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from University of Florida Digital Collection
Streets have been added to aid in identification

At the beginning of the term in 1886, the High School and Tampa School No. 1 moved into this new home where it remained for six years.   B.C. Graham taught the eighth grade and the high school together in the same room. A little later the high school department was moved to a room on the west end of the building, but was not yet separated from the grade school.  Professor Graham, a brother of noted Tampa judge William Shelby Graham, became prominent in the Hillsborough County school system, becoming School Superintendent in 1899. He died in Tampa in March of 1920.

In January 1887, Mr. Wesley P. Henderson resigned as County Superintendant and, in his place, Mr. L.W. Buchholz was appointed by Governor Perry.   

The 1892 map at right shows the building which housed the high school and Tampa School No. 1 in the final year at this location.  The double line running along the center of 6th Ave. was an underground steam pipe used to power the street railway system.

Thanks to Rex Gordon, HHS historian, for locating and sharing the photo of Hillsborough County High School's second home seen below.  Photo from Biennial Report, Superintendant of Public Instruction, State of Florida, published in 1899.

This 1898 photo shows Hillsborough County High School's second home--at 6th Avenue & Jefferson St.
The photo was taken about 5 years after the high school had moved out and the building became the location
of only the the grade school. See next section, Hillsborough County High School's third home.



In 1892, the high school department moved into a new building erected by the City of Tampa and had two regular teachers. This building is situated just south of the old building on Jefferson and Henderson Streets.  During its four years in this building the library had accumulated a nice collection and such chemical apparatus as needed for experiments in chemistry.  In 1894, upon the recommendation of Superintendent Buchholz, the High School was made a separate and distinct institution and was permanently separated from the grade school. It was at this time that B.C. Graham became the high school principal with duties confined to the High School. This change was a great improvement over the previous arrangement. In 1896, the building, now called the Tampa Heights Primary School building, was enlarged and arranged for a primary school.


These 1899 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps show the 1892 locations of the grade school and high school.  The map on the right is a detail of area 29 on the map at left and shows the 2nd and 3rd home of the high school.  No. 2 was enlarged in 1896, eventually becoming the Tampa Heights Primary School referenced by Doris Hill.  The wood structure No. 3 below it (south) was the newer building occupied by the high school from 1892 to 1896.


B. C. Graham, Hillsborough County High School's third principal

B. C. Graham was born in 1847, the 3rd of eleven children of Rev. J. Whitfield Graham and Sarah Catherine Smith.  Benjamin's wife, Sally Gates, was the granddaughter of Josiah Gates, the first white settler in the Manatee Settlement (Bradenton), Florida.  B. C.  was a native of Alabama, with a degree from Hampden-Sydney College. He served as a teaching principal for 15 years in Hillsborough County, after which he was elected School Superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools in January, 1901.

 Photo provided by Louis Edwin Gates, Jr.

Benjamin Chalmers Graham
Detail from photo at right, Circa 1900

B. C. Graham Elementary School was built in 1922 on 4 and 1/2 acres of land located at the southeast corner of Massachusetts Avenue and West Street.

Place your cursor on the photo to identify family members


Picture taken in front of Rev. Edward Franklin Gates' home in Manatee, now East Bradenton, Florida.  Terms of relationship in quotes are with respect to his grandson, Louis Edwin Gates:  1. Rev. Edward Franklin Gates "Grandpa" (son of Josiah Gates, first settler in the Manatee / Bradenton settlement).  2. Euphemia (Feemie) Hubbard Gates "Grandma".  3. Samuel Chaires Gates "Uncle Sammy", son of 1 and 2.   4. Lula Curry Gates "Aunt Lula", first wife of 3.  5. Roy Gates, son of 3 and 4   6. Sally Gates Graham, "Aunt Sally", daughter of 1 and 2, wife of 7.   7. Benjamin C. Graham, "Uncle Ben".   8. Katy Graham (later Dickens), daughter of 6 and 7.  9. Bertha Graham (later Anderson), daughter of 6 and 7.   10. Robin Graham (later Sutton), daughter of 6 and 7.   11. Gladys Graham, never married, daughter of 6 and 7.  12. Annie Laurie Graham, (later Allgood), daughter of 6 and 7.  13. Rev. Edward Josiah Gates, "Uncle Eddie", son of 1 and 2.   14. Mrs. E. J. Gates (Rebecca Wartmen?) first wife of 13.   15. Dr. Hubbard Gates, my papa, son of 1 and 2.  16. Lilla Corbett Gates, my Mama, first wife of 15.  17. Olin Edward Gates, my oldest brother, son of 15 and 16.  18. Ralph V. Gates, my second oldest brother, son of 15 and 16.   19. Laurie Gates, "Uncle Laurie" (later marr. Pearl) son of 1 and 2.   20. Josiah Olin Gates (later marr. Bertha), Son of 1 and 2.   21. Chester Gates (obscured, on lap of 14), baby of 13 and 14.   I (Louis Edwin Gates) was born in 1902 and my youngest brother, Kyle was born in ~1905.

As modified by Louis E. Gates, Jr. on October 16, 2009.  Photo provided by Louis Edwin Gates, Jr., son of Louis Edwin Gates and Mary Virginia Hefner, and provided here to Tampapix by Sally E. Tait Quinn, granddaughter of Louis Edwin Gates and Mary V. Hefner Gates.




The 1895 map shows the Baptist church on the southeast corner of Tampa Street and Twiggs.

Owing to the disastrous freeze of 1895, the plan of Supt. Buchholz to erect a brick building for the High School had to be postponed. Accordingly, the school was taught for one year in the old Baptist Church on the corner of Twiggs and Tampa Streets. By relocating the high school in an old Baptist church, students found themselves back in nearly the center of Tampa’s business community.



Both the School Board and the students wanted a building they could call their own, and their wish was realized in the form of a lease. The students, however, were happy to learn that it was a short term lease, for the property which they had obtained consisted of four rooms on the upper floor of a brick building on the northwest corner of Madison St. and Florida Avenue, the remainder of which was occupied by The Tampa Times office and a post office on the first floor. The school remained in this location from 1897 to 1900. During the first year the high school occupied three rooms, but in the second year, four were needed. This showed an increase in enrollment and led to the addition of two new teachers and additional course requirements. It was in this atmosphere that the school newspaper, then called The Donnybrook Fair, was established.

The 1899 map at left shows the school location at the northwest corner of Florida Avenue and Madison St.  The post office occupied the first floor, with some vacant space behind it.  The high school was on the 2nd floor, along with the Daily Times printing office.

Across Florida Avenue is shown "R.C. Church" (Roman Catholic) and in blue, the "Church of St. Louis" currently under construction.  This is now the Sacred Heart church.


                            The 1897 to 1900 location of Hillsborough County High School


   The two maps below show the above location just before and after the high school was located there.

The Livery Stable, 1895

The Royal Hotel, 1915

The 1897-1900 Wright Building site of the high school was the true "livery stable" location of the high school and was made of brick as stated by E. L. Robinson.  The diagonal lines indicate this was a stable.  As seen on this 1895 map, it was once the home of Tampa Livery Sale & Transfer Co., a 2-story brick building on the northwest corner of Florida Ave. and Madison. By 1915, the Wright Building became the site of the Royal Hotel, a 3-story cement block building on the south side of the Hillsboro Hotel, a 7 and 8 story reinforced cement and brick building.

The map below shows all the downtown locations, superimposed on an 1895 map.
By 1892, location No. 1 at 509 Franklin St. had already been replaced by brick buildings.  Location No. 4 was the current Baptist church location of the school.  Place your cursor on the map to see the area in 1899 when the school was at location No.5, the Post Office and the Daily Times building.

Place your cursor on the map to see the area in 1899.  Notice that location No. 4, the Baptist church, was replaced by a brick building that was home to Tampa Steam Laundry.  Tampa Livery Sale & Transfer became the post office and Daily Times printing office, the current location of the school for this 1899 map, and across the street, the wooden Catholic church was being replaced by the cement/stone building that would become Sacred Heart church.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from University of Florida George Smathers Library Digital Collection



A new school building was needed but there was no legal way of raising money for building purposes, except to save it from the general school fund.

By careful management after the freeze of 1895, money was saved and through the special efforts of Supt. Buchholz, the frame building on the south end of the school property on the corner of Jefferson and Estelle Streets, our present home, was erected in 1900 at a contract price of $5,100 dollars. This well-planned building has two stories and contains an assembly hall, six large rooms, science laboratories, several small rooms a library and an auditorium and an office. It was large enough to accommodate as many as 250 high school students--ample room for the number of pupils enrolled at that time.


Photo from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

This building housed a real county high school, with a standard four-year course, which immediately became recognized as a leading high school of the state.

The 1915 map at left shows the 2nd, 3rd and 6th locations of Hillsborough County High School.  The designations on the map were in use at that time in 1911.

No. 2 - The 1886 to 1891 combined location of Tampa School No. 1 and Hillsborough County High School.

No. 3 - The 1892 to 1896 location of Hillsborough County High School.

No. 6 - The 1900 to 1911 location of Hillsborough County High School seen in the photo above and the photos below.

The postcard image above shows the school location No. 3 on the right and location No. 6 on the left. Photo from





The school opened October 22, 1900 to 125 students. Chairs were used to seat the pupils since there were no desks. Furnishings and equipment were purchased by the faculty through money raised by donations and school entertainments.

Students on the steps of Hillsborough County High School, 1905
Photo from Exploring Florida


These two photos were originally Burgert Bros. photos that were used for postcards
and presented in Rob Kaiser's book, "Tampa - The Early Years."

On the right can be seen the 3rd location of the high school.

The remainder of Doris Hill's cornerstone history

From E. L. Robinson's "History of Hillsborough County":  In 1886, on the recommendation of William B. Henderson, who resigned his position as county superintendent to take up other work, and from the many candidates for the position, the governor appointed as Henderson's successor Mr. Ludwig W. Buchholz who was then teacher of the school in Bloomingdale.  Mr. Buchholz bad been trained in one of the teacher training schools of Germany, had taught there for a few years and then, because of impaired health had come to sunny Florida to seek renewed health. His enthusiasm for education and his skill as a teacher had been well exemplified in the rural school at Bloomingdale and as a result he was called to this greater work. He continued as county superintendent until 1901 when be became professor of philosophy and pedagogy at the Florida State College in Tallahassee.

Ludwig Wilhelm Buchholz
Photo from E. L. Robinson's
"History of Hillsborough County."

In January 1901, Mr. Buchholz accepted a position in the Florida State College at Tallahassee. Mr. B.C. Graham, who up to that time had been principal, succeeded Mr. Buchholz as County Superintendent, which office he held until 1904, when he was succeeded by Mr. W.B. Dickenson, who also occupied that position for a term. In 1908, Mr. Buchholz was again elected as County Superintendent, which place he holds at the present time. It is largely through his efforts that our new building is being erected.

Mr. J.W. McClung was principal from 1900 to 1907. During the next two years, 1907 and 1908, Dr. E.M. Hyde was principal. Then in 1909, Mr. E.L. Robinson was appointed principal.

The High School Faculty at the present time is composed of Mr. E.L. Robinson, principal, Mr. Fritz Buchholz, instructor in German and Mathematics, Mr. F.S. Wetzel, Science teacher, Mrs. Sarah McCreery, Latin instructor, Mrs. L.B. Bradford, English teacher, Miss M. Sparkman, teacher of Spanish and History, Miss Butler, instructor in History and Biology, Miss J.E. Rutland, teacher of English and Algebra and Miss Hulda Kreher, director of the Orchestra.


The course of study from time to time has changed. The course which was adopted in September 1910 and which is in use at the present time is as follows:

Freshman Class: Beginning Latin or Biology, Algebra to Quadratics, English Grammar and Composition, Ancient History.

Sophomore Class: Caesar or Biology, Plane Geometry, Rhetoric and American Literature, Modern History.

Junior Class: Cicero, Algebra from Quadratics, English Literature and Composition, Physics, Spanish, German.

Senior Class: Virgil, Solid Geometry and Plane Trigonometry, English Literature, Chemistry, Spanish, German, United States History and Civics.

A credit is given when a study is pursued for one school year with five recitations each week. It takes four years to complete the High School course. Sixteen credit marks, divided as follows, are required for graduation: English, four credits, History, three credits, Math, two credits, Physics, one credit, Foreign Language, two credits, Elective, four credits.

The High School Orchestra was organized about 1904. The Orchestra contains eighteen pieces, including one piano, eleven violins, two cornets, one triangle, three mandolins, and is effectively directed by Miss Hulda Kreher.

The High School paper, which is published monthly throughout the term by the students, is another interesting feature of our school. In 1899, when it was first published, it had but four pages and was printed like a newspaper. Its name was then “Donnybrook Fair." For two years, 1907 and 1908, it was called “The Star of the Gulf”, and again in 1909, the title was changed, this time to “The Red and Black,” for these are our school colors. Our paper now contains sixteen pages of reading matter and its success is shown by its great popularity with the pupils.

We are delighted with the prospect of moving next October into a new building so large and splendidly equipped, and we intend to take advantage of all that our new school offers us.

Read the cornerstone history in its entirety and see scans of the original document in Doris' handwriting


Doris Geraldine Hill was born on July 15, 1894 in Indiana to Indiana natives DeWitt C. Hill and Laura in Center township, Marion Co., Indiana, where DeWitt worked a bookkeeper. Between 1900 and 1910 they moved to 2716 Morgan St. in Tampa and DeWitt worked as a collector at a piano store.  After graduation, Doris worked as a secretary at Hillsborough County High School for about a year.  She then worked as a stenographer from 1914 to 1918 at the Macfarlane Investment Company.  From 1919 to 1931 she was a stenographer at the Macfarlane & Macfarlane law firm (Hugh and son Howard) which changed names over the years, being at times Macfarlane & Pettingill and then, Macfarlane, Pettingill, Macfarlane and Fowler.  In 1926, Doris became the chief steno clerk at the law firm and in 1933 she had become a private secretary there.  Meanwhile, Doris' father, DeWitt C. Hill, became the manager of Cable-Chase Piano Company by 1914 which would then become Cable Piano Co.  This was a position he held until at least 1940.  In 1940, Doris was working as an assistant secretary in the public school system at Hillsborough High School.  The Hill family moved to 403 Magnolia in 1919 where DeWitt, his wife Laura, and daughter Doris lived until his death between 1940 and 1945.  Doris lived with her parents all their lives and she never married.  She died in Sept. of 1979 and is buried in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

This photo of Doris on the left appeared in the "Coloco" (HCHS's 1913 annual) when she worked at the school as a secretary.  The 1912 annual had no name; the 1913 annual was named for the yearbook board members Collins, Lowry and Conoley. From 1914 to present it's called the Hilsborean.  The photo of Doris on the right is from the 1948 Hilsborean.

At right, a copy of the 1912 Annual in the Hillsborough High School section of the Jefferson High School Alumni Museum.



As the town began to grow into a city, the enrollment increased and the need for a larger, more modern school building became apparent. Another era in this school’s history came to pass. In 1908, land was purchased at 2704 N. Highland Avenue as a site for a new building. Construction was not begun until December 1910. New York architect Wilson Potter designed the three story masonry block building as a rectangle with an open center.


Hillsborough County High School at 2704 Highland Avenue, 1912, a view looking northwest.
The first floor was below ground level and often referred to in the early years as "the basement."  The second floor is the main floor and also in the early years, was referred to as "the first floor."
Burgert Brothers photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


Board of Public Instruction, John T. Gunn - Chairman, W.A. Belcher, William Schneider, L.W. Buchholz - Secy & Sup.

The bronze plaque in the main hall is a replica of the original which is placed at the entrance of the offices in the county education building downtown.

The cornerstone was laid in the northeast corner of the building on February 17, 1911, having been removed from the old Masonic Temple to be placed in the building. In it was placed a time capsule consisting of the items listed at the top of this page.

The new building was completed on October 2, 1911, at a total cost of $60,000.  There were a total of fourteen teachers and 63 regular seniors. The school was ranked high with other high schools of the United States and stood among the first of the Southern high schools.

The date on the cornerstone was vandalized long ago. During the restoration repairs to the building in 2003, the crew that was sent to remove it had a difficult time and did all the damage on the edges.



Formal opening ceremonies for the new building were held on Thursday, Dec. 14, 1911.
Formal opening program images provided by Rex Gordon, HHS Historian.


John T. Gunn at

Heinrich Reinhardt (1865–1922) was an Austrian composer. He died in Vienna and is buried at the Döbling Cemetery.

Photo from Wikipedia   

Holy, Holy, Holy - Christian Hymn by Reginald Heber  Listen here, acapella, as it should be.


William Wilson DeHart, Rector, St. Andrews Church, Tampa.  Priest-in-charge from Jan. 1, 1894 until his death on Sep. 15, 1913. Relative of Abigail DeHart, who as Mrs. John Mayo, was the mother of Mrs. Gen. Winfield Scott.

Giacomo Meyerbeer's Coronation March from the Opera "Le Prophète".  Listen here

Photo from Wikipedia   


Superintendant Ludwig Buchholz biography in E.L. Robinson's "History of Hillsborough County."

  Hon. Hugh Campbell Macfarlane at TampaPix  "The father of West Tampa"

Dr. John C. Tims, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Tampa.  Namesake of Tims Memorial Presbyterian Church in Lutz, organized in 1947.






Hillsborough County High School orchestra, 1913
Photo from Exploring Florida


Frances N. Clayton, organizer of HHS's first orchestra
Photo from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,



In 1923 the building was greatly enlarged with an addition, to the rear of the structure, designed by architect M. Leo Elliott.  The modern day aerial photo below shows the original structure outlined in yellow with the 1923 addition to the left of it.

The original building is outlined in yellow, the rest was the 1923 addition designed by Elliott and Bonfoey.


Renowned Tampa Architect M. Leo Elliott was born in the Catskill Mountains of New York in 1886. He journeyed to New York City at the age of 15, where he studied at Cooper’s Institute, and received training at New York’s Welch, Smith & Provost. Early in his career he helped design buildings for the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 in Norfolk Virginia. He relocated to Tampa at the age of 21, formed a partnership with Bayar C. Bonfoey and experienced great success winning design competitions.

Many of Elliott & Bonfoey's notable Tampa design projects remain in downtown Tampa, on Davis Island and in Temple Terrace. Together, the team designed the Tampa YMCA in 1909 (demolished), Centro Asturiano in 1914, Tampa City Hall in 1915, the Italian Club in 1917, the and the Cuban Club in 1918. In 1920, he founded M. Leo Elliott Inc, with offices in Tampa, Sarasota and St. Pete and by 1925 the firm was working on projects throughout Florida.  They designed the Tampa Yacht Club, the Ritz Theater, as well as many South Tampa, Bayshore and Davis Islands homes. Elliott designed the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club in 1922, two of the oldest buildings in Tampa, now part of Florida College’s campu--Sutton Hall, and the Student Center-originally the Club Morocco Nightclub and Casino in 1926 and pool. Other notable design projects include Temple Terrace Estates, one of the first Mediterranean Revival planned golf course communities in the U.S., established in 1921. The Temple Terrace Community Church, once known as the Temple Terrace Estates Real Estate Office, was built in 1922 and is among a number of M. Leo Elliott’s designs still standing.    He also designed the Masonic Temple Hillsborough Lodge No. 25 in Tampa (1928), the 1920 addition to Sarasota High School (with T. A. Monk) and Historic Spanish Point. Several of the properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Elliott also designed Grand Central Place, the building where today's Kennedy Blvd. and Grand Central Ave. meet.  The Tampa Gas Co. (1931) building was also designed by Elliott, but was lost after a fight for preservation failed. He also designed the Leiman-Wilson house. Elliott is widely regarded as one of the finest architects the Tampa area has yet produced.


Photo from June 8, 2011 Tampa Bay Times article
"Renowned architect M. Leo Elliott's drawings on exhibit in Tampa"

Leo Elliott and his wife, Beth, their son Leo Jr. and his wife Jane
Photo from Florida Homes Magazine


This April 5, 1924 view looking southwest shows the east-facing front of the building on the left, along with the north-facing side of the building on Gladys St. on the right, along with the 1923 Leo Elliott addition at the far right beyond the portico.  Notice the cornerstone located in the northeast corner of the building.
Photo by Burgert Bros. at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


HHS basketball team, circa 1915
Photo from Exploring Florida


E. L. Robinson  

From 1909 to 1925, Mr. Ernest Lauren Robinson was principal. He resigned his office to become county superintendent and was succeeded by Frederic H. Spaulding. The enrollment soon swelled beyond the capacity of the building, and it became apparent that yet another, larger school would be needed.



E. L. Robinson was born Jan 1, 1872 in Meriden, Connecticut, the son of Benjamin A. and Laura (Blakeslee) Robinson.  He is descended from the earliest English settlers in New England.  He was educated in the public schools of Meriden and in Yale University where he received the degree of A.B. in 1894 and A.M. for graduate work in Latin in 1901.  He has also studied in the graduate department of Harvard University.  He was teacher of Mathematics in the Meriden High School from 1894 to 1897, when he became Principal of the Cheshire, Connecticut High School and held that position until 1900.  He then became Principal of the high and elementary schools of New Milford, Connecticut.

In June, 1902, as the result of overwork and exposure at a fire, which destroyed many buildings in New Milford, Mr. Robinson became afflicted with lung trouble.  He gave up teaching and went to Tombstone, Arizona.  The climate soon restored his health and he spent five years in Arizona and New Mexico, engaged in mining and irrigation engineering.

In 1907 he came to Tampa to server for two years as Principal of the Michigan Avenue Grammar School (Robert E. Lee School).  In 1909 the County School board appointed him Principal of the the Hillsborough County High School.  He held this position for 16 years until 1925 when he was appointed Director of the Junior and Senior High Schools of Tampa.  IN 1927 his position was made countywide.

Mr. Robinson was a member of the Tampa Rotary Club, a Pas Master of the Hillsborough Masonic Lodge, a 32nd degree Mason and Shriner.  He was a member of the First Baptist Church and teacher of the Professional Men's Bible Class in that church.  He was also Secretary of the Public Library Board of Tampa.

He was married June 29, 1898 to Evangeline Bloomfield at Meriden.  They had two children, Ruth, who died in infancy, and Grace, who was a teacher of History at Hillsborough High School.

E. L. Robinson was the author and editor-in-chief of the History of Hillsborough County, which was used as a source of information for this feature.  Read it here.



The photo and caption below is from the 1925 Hilsborean
Nobody knows what a red-headed mamma can do
Motto -- Be bright      Colors -- Red and Green
Requirements -- (1) Red hair.   (2) No wig.   (3) No dyed hair.
Grace Frecker, President; Ercel Cole, Vice-President; Martha Tolle, Secretary; Louise Collins, Treasurer; Marjorie Manney
; Members: Thelma Green, Helen Thompson, Myrtle Kyle, Ruth Frecker, Deon Cole, Mary Hawkins, Ruth Lee, Virgie Hyman, Dorothy McAfee, Hariette McRoberts.  Mascots:  Professor E. L. Robinson and Catherine Davis.


Ed, the original Hillsborough High School merchant

The bookstore on the first floor of the D.W. Waters Career Ctr. was the original location of Ed's snack and school supplies counter during the Hillsborough years.

Photo and story from the 1917 Hilsborean:
Anyone who has ever heard of Hillsborough High has heard of "Ed."  He is the "Original High School Merchant."  Ed has been selling everything from hamburgers to stamps for about 15 years to the pupils of the High School.  He has lately added to the establishment a warehouse for the service of teachers.

Ed's humor was popular with teachers and students alike.  He was known for his repertoire of jokes, which was alluded to in his ad; "Continuous Performance, Everybody Welcome, Tickets, Three for 10 cents."

Ed's advice to the Hillsborough High School Class of 1924:
Such are the ups and downs of life, one day of turkey and six days of feathers.


Above: Ed's ad in the May 1912 "Red and Black" school paper.  Notice that the first floor was referred to as the basement.  One Hilsborean says that he had a store in front of the old wooden HCHS building when it was on Estelle and Jefferson St., the schools previous location in 1900 to 1910. Ed continued to operate his store in the school until the late 1920s when the school moved to its current Central Avenue location.  He was to have space in the new building but so far, no evidence that he was in business there has been found.

Information and images of Ed were provided by Rex Gordon, HHS Historian, and obtained from his book, History of Hillsborough High School.



The Alma Mater, the "Red and Black," was written by a teacher and some students in 1923. The tune has since been revised.


"Although Yale has always favored
 The violet's dark blue
 And the sturdy sons of Plant High
 To the gold and black are true,
 We will own the lilies slender,
 Nor honor shall they lack,
 While the Terrier stands defender
 of the dear old Red and Black"

The 2010 HHS marching band performing "Red and Black" and the HHS fight song.


HHS basketball team State Champs for the 1923-1924 school year, seen here in 1925
Photo from Exploring Florida


In 1925, land was purchased on Central Ave. for a new high school building. The Gothic style of architecture was suggested by a man named Dr. Strayer who, at a faculty beach party, drew his version of the present school in the sand with a stick. The School Superintendent expressed satisfaction with his idea and was very impressed.


A brand new Hillsborough High School at 5000 Central Avenue

Photo from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,


Hillsborough High School, Sept. 4, 1928
Burgert Brothers photo from USF Digital Archives


The architectural plans for Hillsborough High School's massive red brick building were designed in the Gothic Revival style by local architect Francis Kennard and the cornerstone was laid Jan. 28, 1927. The walls, buttresses, spires, and tracery of the arched stained-glass windows are decorated in cast stone. The building was built to accommodate 2,000 students and was completed in Sept. of 1928 at a cost of $757,000.

From "History of Hillsborough County, Biographical excerpts", p.291 (Published in 1928)


Francis J. Kennard was born in England in 1865 and came to the United States in 1886, settling first in Putnam County, FL and later moving to Orlando where he practiced architecture from 1888 to 1895.  In the latter year, he moved to Tampa where he has been in the active practice of his profession ever since and is therefore the oldest practicing architect in the city in length of service.


Mr. Kennard has many notable buildings to his credit in the southwest part of Florida, among which may be mentioned are the Belleview Hotel in Bellair, the Pinellas County Court House, Lee County Court House, Citizens' Bank Building of Tampa, also the Floridan Hotel, Citrus Exchange Building and many other important buildings, including the new Hillsborough High School now in the course of construction at Tampa.  He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Florida Association of Architects and the Tampa Association of Architects.



Francis J. Kennard
Photo from obituary at Find A Grave

Francis J. Kennard was born on Mar. 15, 1865 in London, England.  He was a prominent architect who came to the U.S. in 1886 and became well established in Florida with historic buildings, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of the buildings he designed were the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair, Florida, built in 1896, the expansion of the Hotel Boca Grande to the Gasparilla Inn, El Centro Español building in Ybor City, the Floridan Hotel, Tampa, once the tallest building in Florida (video), St. Andrews Episcopal Church, West Tampa Jr. High School in Tampa, and the Anderson-Frank house at 341 Plant Ave., Tampa, the Lee County Courthouse, Fort Meyers, the old Pinellas Country Courthouse, Clearwater, additions to the old Polk County Courthouse, the Hillsboro State Bank building, Plant City, the Colonial Theater in Bethlehem, NH, Many prominent people engaged his services in various states to build their homes and businesses. His works include stately courthouses, movie theaters, school buildings, churches and private mansions which still stand today. Mr. Kennard died on Apr. 29, 1944, in Tampa and is buried at Myrtle Hill Memorial Park.



Since Hillsborough had a reputation of outgrowing its buildings, this school was built extra-large with the idea that the students would not be able to outgrow it easily. It was originally built with 56 classrooms, a 590-foot corridor, a spacious library which contained over 8,000 books, two large study halls, a school bank, a complete home economics unit which included a three room apartment, and a Gothic styled auditorium with a seating capacity of about twelve hundred. The campus alone covered a space of about twenty-three acres, and the building had a roof space of about three acres.

After Hillsborough County High School moved out of the building on Highland Ave., Thomas Jefferson Junior High School was founded there in 1928 and transitioned into a high school in 1939.  The building later became the 2nd home of George Washington Jr. High.  It is now the D. W. Waters Career Center and home to the Jefferson High School Alumni Museum.

Read more about and see photos of Jefferson High School and George Washington Jr. High in this building, the Jefferson High School Alumni Museum and the D.W. Waters Career Center.




The first classes at the new Central Avenue location were enrolled in September of 1928 with Frederic Henry Spaulding as the Principal.  The building was dedicated in December of that year, and was one of the four largest high schools in the South. A fountain was purchased in Dr. Spaulding's honor and placed in the middle courtyard. Later, the fountain was moved to the side entrance of the auditorium in an area entitled Spaulding Court. The fountain was later removed and replaced with a tree that was brought from Spain as a seedling. It died and was replaced with a Florida palm.

It was at this time that "County" was dropped from the name of the school due to another county school having been opened, H. B. Plant.


Dr. Frederic H. Spaulding, from 1936 University of Tampa yearbook
Photo courtesy of Art Bagley, University of Tampa Reference Librarian


In the 1930's, Tampa's top students would graduate high school and then seek higher education elsewhere, and they seldom came back to fuel future generations of business people in Tampa.  Frederic Spaulding, principal at Hillsborough High School, had a plan to put an end to this.  It helped that Hillsborough High School's tall towers and Gothic windows made it look like a college. Spaulding founded Tampa Junior College in 1931 and located it in the high school.  Due to the success of the junior college, Spaulding believed it could be turned into a four-year institution. 


Portrait of Frederic Spaulding in the lobby at the University of Tampa

Early in the morning on Aug. 2, 1933, a battered pick-up truck arrived at Hillsborough High School. This was the day when Tampa Junior College was transformed into The University of Tampa and when its headquarters moved from the local high school to what is now known as Plant Hall. Riding on the truck was its president, Frederic H. Spaulding, the former principal of Hillsborough High School and the man who had been the motivating force behind establishing the first local university for Tampa’s high school graduates.

Frederic H. Spaulding unlocks the front door to the new headquarters of the University of Tampa with Dean John Coulson, 1933.  From "Under the Minarets, the University of Tampa celebrates fifty years of progress, 1931-1981"


While the school was still known as Tampa Junior College, a committee recommend names for the school's athletic teams. Since St. Petersburg Junior College was expected to be the arch rival, and they were using the nickname Trojans, the name Spartans was selected from the ancient Greek Trojans/Spartans war. In 1933, when the school became the University of Tampa, athletic director and head football coach Nash Higgins selected the team colors. Since most of his players came from Hillsborough High School (red and black) and Plant High School (black and gold), Higgins combined the colors of those two schools making the UT's colors red, black and gold.   See "Tampa Gets a University" here at TampaPix.


1935 Hilsborean

Vivian Gaither, HHS Principal
B.S., Peabody College, Tenn.
M.A., Columbia University, New York City

Mr. Vivian Gaither succeeded F. H. Spaulding and remained principal for thirty-three years. The football field was renamed in his honor but was changed back to Terrier Field with the opening of Gaither High School in 1984. The field has since been renamed Chelo Huerta Field.


1946 Hilsborean



Gaither was born Oct. 14, 1899 in a small town called Tallassee, in Elmore Co., Alabama. He was one of one of 12 children of Thomas Eli Gaither and his wife Emma J. Melton.  Raised on a farm, he grew up as one of eight boys and learned the value of discipline and diligence. At first Gaither wanted to be a lawyer, and took a teaching job while saving the money needed to enter law school. He found he liked teaching so much he gave up law and pursued an education, later becoming principal of a school in Catula, Ga. Vivian Gaither received his bachelor’s degree in education from Peabody College.

The family photo below was provided by Carol Wiggins of  The persons have been identified based on the above and below biographical information on Vivian Gaither, Gaither family censuses (1900, 1910, 1920 & 1930), as well as Vivian's WW1 draft registration and family tree info online.




1900 Birth (age) gender 1910 Age gender 1920 Age gender Smith Griffith Tree 1930

Age gender

Thomas E. Oct.1870 (29) M Thomas E 39 M Tom E. 49 M Thomas Eli Tom E.59 (M) wid 59 M
Emma Oct 1872 (27) F Emma J. 36 F Emma J 46 F Emma J Melton    
Wesley May 1893 (7) M Thomas W 17 M Thomas W.* 26 M Thomas Wesley b.may 2, 1893    
Alfred Jun 1895 (4)  M Alfred B. 16 M Alfa B. 24 M Alfred B.*** b. Jun 18, 1895 Alfred B.(M) 34 M
Capus Jul 1897 (2)   M Capers O. 11 M Capus O. 22 M Capus Otis b. Jul 11, 1897    
Vivian Oct 1899 (7m) M Vivian 10 F Vivian** 20 M Vivian b. Oct 14, 1899    
    Lilburne M  9  F     b. abt. 1911    
    James W  7 M James W. 16 M James W. b. abt 1903    
    Geneva  5 F Geneva 14 F b. abt. 1904    
    Cecil S  3 M Cecil S. 12 M Cecil Spencer b. abt. 1907    
    Vilma M  1 F Velma M. 10 F b. abt. 1909 Velma M. (F) 20 M
        Ethan E.   8 M b. abt. 1911    
        Jofrie C.   6 M Geoffrey Columbus. b.Jul 23, 1913 Joffrey C. (M) 16 M
        Buford P.   3y 3m F b. abt. Sept. 1916 Bufford P. (F) 13 M

*Thomas W. Gaither was enumerated twice on the 1920 Census.  Once in the home with his parents in Channahatchee, Elmore single, and again living in Tallassee, Elmore Co. as married with his wife Elizabeth M. and child Harold W. Gaither.

**Vivian Gaither was enumerated twice on the 1920 Census.  Once in the home of his parents in Channahatchee, Elmore Co. as a teacher in a Literary School, and again in Atmore Town, Escambia Co., AL, single, as a teacher in a High School, boarding in the home of George W. Ellis and his wife and children.

***Name was actually Alpha Bruce Gaither, on his headstone and WW1 draft registration and signature.

Photo ID conclusions:  Thomas Eli and Emma J. Gaither were identified due to being the apparent oldest persons in the photo.  The youngest in appearance was assumed to be Harold, son of Thomas W. and Elizabeth M. Gaither.  Based on this child's apparent age of around 2 years old, the photo was dated circa 1920.  Based on his position in the photo, it was assumed that he was on the lap of his father and next to his mother.  Vivian was identified based on appearance, and his brothers Alfred, Capus and James were identified based on appearance of age and position in order of age.  The next youngest child was assumed to be Bufford P. Gaither, who is listed as female on both of her censuses, and apparent age of 3 in 1920. (On the 1940 city directory of Montgomery, AL, she was listed as a saleswoman at S.H. Kress.)  The next youngest female, who appears to be around 10 years old in the photo, was assumed to be Velma, who was 10 in 1920. The next youngest female in the back row appeared to be closer to age 14 (Geneva) as opposed to Lilburne who would have been around 19 in 1920.  Lilburne is not listed in any later censuses and no record of any type can be found for her after her 1910 Census.  It is assumed that she may have died by 1920.  The three boys in the front row were assumed to be Cecil, Ethan and Geoffrey, based on apparent ages of 16, 12 and 8.

Place your cursor on the photo to see persons identified.

Thomas & Emma Gaither with their children, daughter-in-law (Elizabeth M. Gaither) and grandson (Harold M. Gaither) circa 1920, at their home in Tallassee, AL
Photo courtesy of Carol Wiggins


In 1925, Gaither moved to Florida to accept a teaching contract, acting as principal of Woodrow Wilson Junior High. During his five-year tenure there, he attended Teachers College in New York during the summer until he earned his master’s degree in education in 1930. After short stints at Benjamin Franklin Junior High and Plant High, a choice that devoted Hillsborough students thought to be a slight bit of heresy, Gaither became principal of Hillsborough High School in 1933.


Hillsborough, the oldest school in the county, has a robust alumni association and much of the information about Gaither comes from that group’s newsletter. During his 33-year stay at Hillsborough, according to the alumni association, Gaither earned the unwavering respect of all his students, embodying the spirit of the school and acting as a fair and efficient principal. He was known to regularly attend the school’s sporting events in full Terrier regalia. In 1937, he married a Hillsborough graduate, Jacqueline Bettis. During his career, Gaither was named an Honorary Doctor of Education by the University of Tampa. He was heavily involved in the First Baptist Church, and was a high-ranking member of the Hillsborough Masonic Lodge.  Gaither retired in 1966 and died at his home in Lutz in Sept, 1991 at age 91.



After war was declared on Germany in the spring of 1917, several boys of the school organized a military company and began drilling during lunch. The principal, Prof. Robinson, paid little attention thinking it would wear out. However, a few weeks passed and the enthusiasm of the boys had not lessened. Prof. Robinson took notice and requested Coach Freeman to instruct the boys in drill, at the same time lengthening lunch by twenty minutes to allow them time to drill. Upon the opening of school the next year, a meeting of the boys was called and the company was reorganized. After a few weeks of drill, the School Board took notice of their work and secured a drillmaster to instruct them. Coach Freeman had since been commissioned by the Army.  J.W. Dyke, formerly a lieutenant in the Florida National Guard, was secured and they made rapid progress.


In 1935, the U.S. Army took sponsorship of the corps and they then became the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. (J.R.O.T.C.) This organization was a source of constant pride and admiration since its establishment in this school. They were outstanding both in this county and state, winning such an excess of awards that some of the recent awards had to be given away due to lack of space. The Drum and Fife Corps was organized in 1914 under the supervision of Dr. Sumter Lowry, and with the material aid of the Tampa Gasparilla Association and the County School Board. The first appearance of the corps was made during the 1915 Gasparilla Carnival after only six short weeks of practice. This corps was the forerunner of the present day marching band and the J.R.O.T.C. Drum and Bugle Corps.

At right, HHS ROTC circa 1940s






When the school was built at this location in 1928, the clock tower had no clock. Then came the Great Depression and funds were nonexistent, followed by World War II when America turned all its efforts to winning the war.  It wasn't until 1949 that HHS students and alumni collected enough funds to purchase a clock and dedicate it in honor of Hillsborough's veteran casualties of World War II. The names of Hillsborough alumni who were killed in action during the war were placed on a plaque inside the tower. Image courtesy of Rex Gordon, HHS Historian.
Above and on the left, photos from the 1947 Hilsborean anticipating a successful drive to raise funds for a clock. The representation of the clocks was added artistically. 

Images courtesy of Rex Gordon, HHS Historian.


An early design of the Roll of Honor, 1947 Hilsborean
Image courtesy of Rex Gordon, HHS Historian


According to the school newspaper, the "Red & Black," a group of HHS alumni tried to raise funds for a clock, but due to unstated difficulties, turned it over to the Student Council in early 1948.  They started a fundraising campaign in November of 1948, where the profits from every student activity were put aside for the clock.  There was enough to also obtain a "Plaque of Honor."  A dedication ceremony was held on the front lawn on June 3, 1949.


Memorial Clock and "Roll of Honor" Plaque Dedication Program
June 3, 1949

Program provided by Charles Harkness
President of the Hillsborough High School Alumni Association
Scans provided by Rex Gordon, Hilsborean Historian






Click each page to view larger, then use your browser zoom to see full size.
Special thanks to Charles Harkness & Rex Gordon for sharing this rare program with!

View or download a PDF of all four pages from DropBox



Image scans courtesy of Rex Gordon, HHS Historian.


The Plaque of Honor inside the clock tower.  Click to see larger, then click again to see full size.

Names on the plaque
(There are 143 names on the program but only 139 names on the plaque.  The names in blue are on the program but not on the plaque.  Also, the names on the program are not in exact alphabetical order but they are in order on the plaque.)

First column: Cesario Alvarez Jr., Jack D. Anderson, Aukland M. Banks., Glover Beazley Jr., Allan T. Bennett, William V. Benton, Aubrey Bispham, William Blake, Antonio Boan, Fred M. Bodden,  Jack Bond,  William Bryan Brewer Jr., Carl Edward Brinson, Heard Burnett, Jack R. Burns, Billie Byrd, Grant Wright Caldwell, Darius A. Campbell, William E. Carrington, R. L. Chapman, Nathan Chapman, Curtis L. Childers, Clay Williams Cook, Harry Reid Cornelius, Randall Cowart, Douglas S. Cox, Tommy R. Crawford, O. B. Cray Jr., Marcus N. Cribbs, Earl B. Croft, Franklin H. Croft, James Croft, Nelson L. Cusumano, Albert Ewell Daniel, John L. D'Azzo, Hal Dean, Anibal C. Diaz, Henry C. Diaz, Nelson Dickenson, Frederick A. Didier, George S. Durrance, Tony C. Emanuel, Louis Esteves, Rosario Ferlita, Mark D. Flynn, Louis Fueyo, Clarion Alfonso Garcia.  2nd Column: Kenneth Garrett, George Lester Glass Jr., Howell Goodson, Tommy Gordon, Angus Robert Goss, William Arnold Green, Joe Guastella, Louis Vincent Guerra, Cilio S. Guerriere, Raymond Hammer, John T. Hancock, Clyde C. Harnage, George F. Hayman, Alois Heiter Jr., James Henderson, Robert V. Henry Jr., Wilcox C. Hicks, Harold Higgins, Joseph M. Holmes, Harry B. Hughes,  Ignacio Italiano, Floyd W. Jerkins, Melvin Jerkins, William L. Kemp, Uvis Earnest Kitchens, Berlin Knowles, James Connor Lamb, Joe Lazzara, Edward Leon, Felix Andrew Manrique, Nick Matassini, Charles Mathews, Louis W. McCall, David McCormick, Ian McPherson, Edward R. Miller, J. J. Miller, Rudolph M. Miro, Hubert S. Mobley, Walter S. Monroe Jr., Edward Mount, Edwin J. Mushinski, Laudies Ira Nelson, Elven R. O'Berry, Louis Orihuela, Edwin E. Owen, James M. Owen.  3rd Column: Roy P. Parra, Lester Patterson, R. W. Peerman Jr., Manuel Perez, Gaetano F. Perrone, Charles Peterson, George W. Phillips, Harry H. Poe, Dean N. Post, J. B. Pulliam, Anselmo Quain, James Riddell, Arthur Walter Roberts, Murray B. Roberts, Jacob S. Rosenberg, Sam D. Rotolo, Gilbert A. Salas, John G. Sands, Robert H. Seik, William Sheffield Jr., Ernest P. Smith Jr., James Smith, Warren Snapp, Gordon Thomas Stepp, Andrew Sulli Jr., Earl L Sumner, Peter Tagliarini, Paul F. Thomas, Robert Thomas, William Touchton, Eugene Rowe Trobaugh Jr, Edgar L. Tucker, William Turner, Charles F. Valdez, Raymond Voss, Robert Oscar Wages, William Harry Wagner Jr., Harrison B. Walton Jr., Ed Ward, Robert Lee Waste, William Eugene Webb, Herbert Neil White, Philip D. Whitehead, William A Whitener, George Wilder Williams, Robert E. Williams, Paul Winston, William Wishart, Thomas C. Young.


Photos from the 1950 HHS Hilsborean
The ceremony was held too late to make it into the 1949 Hillsborean


Rev. E. J. Pendergrass of Seminole Heights Methodist Church and HHS Principal Vivian Gaither

Rev. Pendergrass speaking to the crowd                                            HHS Drum & Bugle Corps.


The HHS band at the ceremony, 1949, led by Amado Delgado


Amado Delgado
Music Director

Steve Solak
Asst. Music Director

The HHS Band in the 1949 Hilsborean

The Mixed Glee Club in the 1949 Hilsborean
Front Row, L to R: Patsy Dale, Yvonne Ralston, Carmella Fonte, Jeanette Lewis, Shirley Clemons, Richard Menendez, Joe Gonzalez, Oran Almond, Frank Carrera, Nancy Friend, Mary Louise Judd, Frances Harlan, Jo Ann Coker, All Hubbard, Miriam Robles, Carlisle Fulwood.  Second Row: Eleanor Evans, Pauline Ellis, Jo Ann Thorpe, Hildred Williams, Bob Ryals, Don Castor, Charles Menendez, Reece Johnson, Tommy Brown, Carolyn Hurst, Billy Sapp, Dorinda Gallops, Chloe Ann Cavanaugh, Alice Adams.  Third Row: Barbara Brumley, Mary Ann Williams, Violanda Puleo, Patty Cranor, Loyce Boothby, Marilyn Lingo, Edna King, Vernell Burbage, Carolyn Glisson, Dotty Manolt, Adalee Henning, Marguerite Webb, Beatrice Miller, Doris DePorter, Mary Alice Jernigan, Diane Parsons, Helen Williams, Marie Renner, Eleanor Kruppa, Ginny Lou Walsingham, Mary Revette.


Home Movie of the Dedication Ceremony, June 3, 1949


This rare home movie footage of the dedication ceremony on 8 mm film was found by HHS Alumni Association Board Member Jeannette Harper Noble in the attic of her parents' Ybor City home.  She has graciously shared it with us so that generations of Big Red alumni and friends can enjoy it.  Special thanks to Jeanette and to Rex Gordon for providing it to






Mr. Vivian Gaither
Principal, from 1950 Hilsborean

Yearbook images courtesy of Rex Gordon, HHS Historian.

Vice Principal Eugene E. Hatton (1949)
B.S. & M.A. Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Asst. Principal Wayne A. Hamilton (1949)
A.B. Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN
M.A. Columbia Univ., NYC




The patio was renovated in 1950 so it could be used for dances and barbeques. The music building was completed in 1952 and the display cases were added to the center hall.


The sacred "H" was dedicated to Assistant Principal Wayne Hamilton in 1974 for his service to the school. Pride dictates that it may not be walked upon.

Asst. Principal Wayne Hamilton




Vivian Gaither, HHS Principal, 1965

The fabled H in the patio at HHS.  If you were caught stepping on it you were forced to kiss the H; sometimes with the use of force.   In present times, the H is cordoned off to prevent walking on it. 



USF President John Allen giving commencement speech to the first graduating class of USF, Dec. 1963.
Second from the left is Vivian Gaither; to his right is Congressman Sam Gibbons.



Football field and track, 1935
Photo from
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Basketball team, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Collections


HHS band onstage, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives
HHS business class, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives
HHS Geography Class, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives
HHS Science Class, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives
HHS Art Class, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives
HHS production of Oklahoma!, circa 1942
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives

Hillsborough High School football team
"Big Ten Champs" Dec. 7, 1942
Back row, far left:  Asst. Coach Dick Spoto, far right is Head Coach J. Crockett Farnell; both were University of Tampa graduates.
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives

1945 HHS athletics coaches, Dick Clewis, Ben Filipski, J. Crockett Farnell, Earl Hatcher, Jesse Keene.

Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Archives





In late 2001 when Hillsborough County was considering names for three new schools in North Tampa, "J. Crockett Farnell" was proposed for the high school.  Farnell had the backing of Tampa's most powerful figures and the School Board members agreed. Farnell received votes on a first ballot, as well as Liberty High School, but neither had enough to win approval. "Freedom" won on the second ballot.

Before that time, the late J. Crockett Farnell appeared to have the edge. Farnell, a legendary football coach at Hillsborough High School who was superintendent of schools for 17 years in the 1950s and 1960s, was championed by a massive campaign of former students, players and colleagues. Backed by former Tampa Mayor Bill Poe, the 18-month effort had garnered more than 1,000 supporters. The only mark against the innovative educator was a 1967 embezzlement conviction that was later overturned on appeal.  Former teacher and Board of Regents member Dennis Ross told the Board, "Crocket was shabbily treated by this community for many years, we must now set the record straight and recognize this man's greatness and his contribution to our society."

In August of 2002, the new junior high school in Westchase of North Tampa, was named J. Crockett Farnell Middle School, in his honor.  J. Crockett Farnell Middle School was opened in August 2002. Farnell, who was a dedicated teacher and coach in Hillsborough County from 1942 - 1948 was elected as Superintendent of Schools for Hillsborough County from 1949-1966. He was our last elected superintendent in Hillsborough County.   Hillsborough County Public Schools


Coach J. Crockett Farnell (left) at the mic with H. B. Plant high school coach Jimmy Hughes (right), as WDAE sports announcer "Salty Sol" Fleischman looks on.  Nov. 3, 1947
Photo from the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Coach Farnell's son is retired judge J. Crockett Farnell

From "New School Names; Liberty and Freedom"


At Hillsborough, one of the strong points in both spirit and pride has always been in athletics. This began as early as 1906 with the formation of the ’Big Red’ football team and cheering squad. By 1910 Hillsborough gained gridiron supremacy over the other state high school teams and clenched the state championship for the first time after a relentless battle with Rollins College.  The ’Big Red’ team was a member of the Big Ten Conference and played against such opponents as the University of Florida and Stetson University. In 1948 the Terriers won the Big Ten Conference title for the fourth time in seven years.

Superintendent of Public Instruction J. Crockett Farnell and Tampa Motor Club officials with school patrol badges.  Aug. 15, 1957

Photo from the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library




For many years, Hillsborough High played Plant High in an annual Thanksgiving Day game at Phillips Field, downtown.  See more photos of this event and Phillips Field at the Tampapix feature "Tampa Stadium".


Hillsborough High vs. Plant High Thanksgiving Day game, circa 1950s
Robertson & Fresh photo from USF Digital Collections

The baseball team has earned considerable respect and is still one of the three major sports of the school. Baseball did not exist from 1921-1926 since it could not support itself by gate receipts.  Hillsborough had some of the best athletes and coaches in the state in 1931, in spite of the fact that they did not have adequate training grounds nor a field.

The Big Red Barn

Robertson & Fresh photo from USF
Digital Collections

The basketball team has also won its share of competitions. It, like the football team, was a member of the the Big Ten conference and has won the title as well. The original gymnasium was built in 1936 and was famously and affectionately known to Hillsborough High students and alums as the "Big Red Barn", more commonly "The Barn", probably due in part to its architectural design: its steep "skylighted" roof and red brick facade caused the gym to resemble a barn from a distance. "The Barn" was known for being a hostile environment for Terrier opponents to compete in, for the HHS student body seldom stood for anything short of winning.

Article in the Feb. 28, 1936 "Red and Black" HHS school newspaper, image courtesy of HHS historian Rex Gordon.  Read about the WPA.


"The Barn" was one of the harshest gyms in the county to play in, as there was no air conditioning in it for many years. That, coupled with the loud fans and the many talented Terrier teams opposing schools had to face made "the Barn" a very difficult place to come out of with a win, much to the delight of generations of Hillsborough fans.

Other WPA projects in Tampa:  Cuscaden Park     Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands




The graduating class of 1957, led by the students under Eddie Spoto, Ralph Lazzara and Tommy Murray, among others, founded a dream--a code of ethics called the "Terrier Creed," which was to be put into effect by the succeeding classes. It was the only one of its kind in the South and it received much publicity. Unknown to the faculty and administrators, the students took up a collection for a bronze terrier monument in the courtyard, as a symbol of the Terrier Creed.  Sophomores to seniors alike dug willingly and generously into their pockets, and by the end of the day, they had surpassed the set goal.  The dream was on the way to reality.

On Thanksgiving Eve of 1957, a new student body stood reverently in the courtyard and watched the last step of their dream become reality.  Steve Mason and Ed Guinta unveiled the bronze terrier--standing big, beautiful, proud and defiant, with the sun highlighting its smooth surface--a constant reminder of the Terrier Creed.


Buck Hicks, Ed Guinta, Steve Mason and Bill Biglow placing the plaque at the foot of the Terrier, dedicating it to the class of 1957.



Three members of the "Jolly Boys" volunteered to "guard" the precious statue on dedication day.

HISTORY OF THE TERRIER CREED (From Hillsborough High School Class of 1958)

Much has been written and stated about the famous "Terrier Creed." Each person from that era seemingly makes some sort of personal claim about its creation and origin.  One particular article that appeared in the March 2006 issue of the Terrier Talk seems to be the most accurate description of the 'Creed’s' origin and creation. The article, written by Ralph Lazzara, infers that he and Eddie Spoto were commissioned by Mr. Vivian Gaither in the Spring of 1956 to poll the faculty for its approval of their conceived idea for a 'Code of Ethics'. The idea, if approved by the faculty, would then be presented to the student body for its acceptance. Needless to say the idea was widely approved and accepted. At a student assembly, the entire student body gave its endorsement of the 'Creed'.  Among the interesting facts surrounding the 'Creed' is that it has always been implied that the 'Creed' was solely created by the students, for the students and without the assistance or input of anyone else, especially the school’s faculty. Such is not the case according to Ralph’s article and per an article published in the Tampa Tribune edition dated April, 26, 1957. The Tribune article mention that Miss Mary Ruby Johns sat as a faculty sponsor over a group consisting of Eddie Spoto, Edward Giunta, Crocket Farnell, Grace Bushey, Graig Thurston, Glen McCall, Steve Mason and Tom Murray. This group seems to be responsible for the writing of the six articles of the 'Creed'. 

I, as a student of Hillsborough High School, with pride and respect for myself and for my school, pledge: 1 . To preserve the beauty and tradition of my school. 2. To demonstrate my school spirit and to help elevate the standing of my school by displaying conduct favorable to our reputation at all times. 3. To avoid displaying my affections at times when my actions would be liable for criticism, especially on the school campus and in the building and at school functions. 4. To refrain from all forms of gambling on campus. 5. To refrain from drinking intoxicating beverages and using drugs of any kinds at school functions. 6. To refrain from using disrespectful gestures and profane language. By doing these things, I will properly reflect the character, personality, and attitude of my school.

The motto, "Possunt quia posse videntur", means "They can because they think they can."



Ed Guinta, co-MC at the dedication ceremony    


At first, the bronze icon stood boldly on a pedestal outdoors. Too many times, however, students would arrive at school to find the icon painted in Plant or Chamberlain high colors. A squad of Hillsborough commandos would be dispatched on a late-night mission to decorate the rivals' mascots. Due to considerable torment, the bronze statue was moved inside.








From 1966 to the 1970s, Ann Turner Cook taught English Literature and creative writing at Hillsborough High School.  Ann (born 1928) is now a  mystery novelist.  She was the model for the familiar Gerber Baby artwork seen on baby-food packages of the Gerber Products Company.

Read more about Ann Turner Cook and how she became the Gerber baby.

Photo from KASE 101







Statues could be seen throughout the first and third floors but they were later moved into the library. During the renovation of 1975, they were removed from the school with the intention of replacing them. They were never recovered and their whereabouts are unknown.







The beautiful stained-glass windows in the auditorium were purchased by different groups with funds raised by students. They were completed in 1963.





In 1975 the building began renovations to allow for central air conditioning. During the 1975-76 school year, HHS 10th grade students attended George Washington Junior High for the afternoon session at the 2704 N. Highland Avenue location--the same facility built for them in 1911.  11th and 12th-graders attended the new Jefferson High School building at  4401 W. Cypress St.  Jefferson students attended classes from 7am to noon, with an overlap period for some students needing extra credit from noon to 1pm.  Hillsborough students attended the afternoon session from noon until 5pm.


The renovation of the school was the end to the last link of the past. Years were swept away. Mechanical systems were retrofitted to the original structure and had resulted in significantly lowered ceilings. In some cases, corridors were as low as 7 ft. 6 in. Acoustical panels were installed over ornate plasterwork and many windows were completely bricked over. Historic fixtures were removed or hidden, and original wood floors were covered with vinyl. The terrazzo floors were carpeted, the marble partitions in the restrooms were removed and replaced with wooden stalls. The carved and polished wood which lined the walls of the library were ripped out and replaced with plaster as it was transformed into biology rooms. These renovations had concealed, damaged, or completely removed many of the historically significant architectural details.  An elevator was installed and a new library built. 


Place your cursor on the photo to see a pre-renovation hallway


In 1979, HHS students launched a successful fundraising campaign to pay for the chimes in the HHS clock tower. In 1980, a plaque was donated by the class of 1980, and mounted over the doorway leading to the inner courtyard from the trophy case area of the main building dedicated to the classes of the 1980s and "the Decade of New Ideas."

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Hillsborough's student population swelled to over 3,000 students and spanned two campuses.  Referred to as the North and South Campuses, Hillsborough's South Campus included all of the buildings which now comprise Memorial Middle School, adjacent to HHS on its south side, and was used for the vocational courses.

In the mid 1980s, the Alumni Building, commonly referred to as the 400 Hall, was added to the school. In around 1995, another addition was made, the 500 Building/English Hall, in which most 10th grade homerooms and English classes are housed.

In 2003, the school district realized that the Hillsborough facility was in need of major updates to meet the spatial needs of the school’s 2000-plus student body. The district elected to perform renovations with a two-fold purpose: 1) to preserve the oldest school in the district and the campus’ contribution to the historical neighborhood in which it resides and 2) provide a cost-effective solution to the growing needs of the district. Starting in 2005, many classes were forced into portable classrooms during the renovation. The major improvements to HHS were divided between maintenance and restoration, and construction of a new gymnasium.

Working diligently to preserve as much of the school’s original character as possible, the project team collaborated to create a durable, state-of-the-art educational facility. Included in the team’s efforts was the rehabilitation of the school’s iconic clock tower. By project’s completion, the tower was returned to working order — complete with a new carillon that can be heard throughout the surrounding neighborhood. Infill brick panels introduced in the 1970s were removed and windows reinstalled. Dropped ceilings were removed to reveal 15-ft. ceilings, barrel vaults, and column capitals. The hardwood and terrazzo floors were uncovered and refinished. Original light fixtures were refurbished. Stained glass windows were refurbished and reinstalled behind a protective layer of laminated glass.

Great care was taken to ensure that the renovated facility would function at today’s environmental standards. Updated lighting fixtures, replicating the original 1920’s fixtures, were installed in areas where the original fixtures were either missing or beyond repair. The ceilings in some cases were slightly lowered for the sake of energy efficiency. Items such as exposed ductwork to meet the air conditioning needs were introduced into the buildings with great care. Computer data lines were installed in existing walls and ceilings. School yearbooks from the 1930s and 1940s were studied and former alumni were consulted, in an effort to effectively return the high school to its former glory. New wooden seats replaced the existing plastic auditorium chairs. “The red and black plastic never worked and were out of place with the restored grandeur of the auditorium and the stained glass windows."   (From School Planning & Management)

See photos of the 2004 - 2007 restoration


Entrance to the gymnasium (Photo from Wikipedia)

HHS Terriers' kicker takes a 3-point shot (Photo by B. Cassella)


In 2008, HHS completed renovations to restore the high school to its pre-1960s luster, when it reopened its newly named gymnasium.  On May 3, 2008, a ceremony was held in Hillsborough High's newly remodeled gym to dedicate the gym, naming it the Don Williams Athletic Center, in honor of former HHS boys basketball coach Don Williams, who led the Terriers to a 2A state championship in 1959. Coach Williams went on to become the first University of South Florida men's basketball coach in 1970-71. Coach Williams was notified of the dedication prior to his death in 2008 at age 84.


See this video slide show of HHS taken in October of 2008 during an open house.  (Photos at right are from the video.)




Chelo Huerta was a born leader.  The son of Cuban-American Ybor City cigar workers, he played football at HHS as an offensive linesman.  Huerta called the plays, a job usually reserved for the quarterback.

Not long after high school, he joined the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, serving as a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot and flying missions over Nazi-occupied Europe.  When Huerta's aircraft was shot down over Yugoslavia, he evaded capture by German military units, and with the assistance of Yugoslav partisans, he was able to safely return to his base.

After being discharged from military service, Huerta attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played guard for coach Bear Wolf's Florida Gators football team from 1947 to 1949.  He was a standout two-way lineman for the Gators during a time the players ironically dubbed the "Golden Era"—a stretch when the Gators never won more than five games in a season. Huerta graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1949.


At 28, Huerta became the youngest head football coach and athletic director in the country when he succeeded Frank Sinkwich at the University of Tampa. After a highly successful 10-season career there, followed by shorter ones at Wichita State University and Parsons College, he compiled a 104-53-2 record.

After retiring from coaching in 1967, Huerta returned to Tampa and was a successful insurance agent for a year, but he didn't enjoy it.  For the last sixteen years of his life, he was the executive vice president of the MacDonald Training Center, which assisted in the rehabilitation of handicapped children and young persons and developed methods to get them jobs in mainstream society.

In 1975, he testified before the U.S. Congress as an advocate for mentally and physically impaired children. He was the founder of the "Football Players for Crippled Children" program, and was a member of the President's Council on Endowment for the Handicapped.  Huerta received the Pop Warner Award for his work with young athletes.

Huerta was well-known on the Florida Gators alumni speaking circuit for his quick wit and humor, and he was an active participant in the "Golden Era" football alumni group from the late 1940s.  Huerta and his wife Gloria had a son, Marcelino J. "Bubba" Huerta, III, and a daughter Susan. Bubba Huerta played baseball for the Florida Gators baseball team and graduated from his father's alma mater, the University of Florida.  Chelo Huerta died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1985; he was 61 years old. Thousands attended his funeral at Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa.        Photo from Wikipedia

Burgert Bros. photo from the Tampa-Hillsborough Co. Public Library

Chelo Huerta was a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame and was posthumously inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1983.  He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2002 and In commemoration of his service to the Tampa Bay community and its youth, the football field at his high school alma mater, Hillsborough High School, is named Marcelino "Chelo" Huerta Field in his honor in 1987.

Amid all this achievement, his son, Marcelino Huerta III, said he also managed to be a good husband and father. "We had to share him with the community and the country, but he included us in his very exciting celebrity-style life," said Huerta III, a 51-year-old Tampa lawyer. "He always made time for us."   In 1987, the city dedicated a playground in his name at Bay To Bay Boulevard and Lois Avenue in Virginia Park. In 2002, he was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.


Chelo Huerta coaching career details

Marcelino Huerta, Calling Plays and Changing Lives, July 2, 2004




Hillsborough has had many graduations in its past and all of them have been unique. The first graduating class in 1886 consisted of four seniors; three girls and one boy. The extent of their education is unknown. There was no formal ceremony. The next year, five girls graduated with a formal ceremony at the old Tampa Branch opera house, which occupied the 2nd floor of a building at the northwest corner of Franklin Street and Lafayette. Each girl read her graduating speech by the light of oil lamps which hung along the walls.




Branch's Opera House on Franklin St. in the 1880s.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Three buildings that stood on the northwest corner of Franklin and Lafayette Boulevard in the 1880s: The large three-story building in the center held the Branch Opera House on the second floor. It served as Tampa's primary place for social, political, and civil affairs.  On the left is Emery, Simms & Emery's Boots and Shoes store.  On the right is a grocery store.  These 3 buildings appear in the above 1887 map.  "B & S" is "boots and shoes."

Read more about this block known as "Giddens Corner"   Excellent view of the opera house in 1900

In the 1870s, a period in Tampa referred to as the "Dismal Decade," Tampa had shrunk to approximately 726 citizens by the time the 1880 census was taken. H.B. Plant's railroad led to sudden growth in Tampa, and by 1885, Tampa’s population had multiplied to nearly 3,000 residents. That’s the way it was, on that May 7th, when a mass meeting was called at Branch’s Opera House for the purpose of forming a Board of Trade, predecessor to today’s Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The top people were on hand, and twenty-seven early birds were enrolled as charter members that first meeting. There were dentists, physicians, druggists, printers, painters, storekeepers, insurance and real estate men, watchmakers and jewelers. Dr. John P. Wall, a highly respected medic, Tampa mayor and an outstanding Floridian, was chosen to lead these boosters in their crucial first year.



Hillsborough High School was the first high school in the county to establish an Alumni Association. In 1985, during the 100th Anniversary of the school, HHS alumni came together and decided to form The Hillsborough High School Alumni Association. And, since the HHSAA has created the Terrier Hall of Fame, which includes and recognizes prominent HHS alumni in all walks of life. Hillsborough has an illustrious alumni with records of service as State Attorney, Senators, Judges, State Representative, Mayors of Tampa, professional athletes, educators, School Board Members, actors, authors, lecturers, sports announcers, Country Commissioners and Council Members, entrepreneurs, etc.

Today, the HHS Alumni Association publishes the Terrier Talk newsletter four times per year, and has launched an HHSAA website. The HHSAA helps fund school improvement projects.

Hillsborough High School takes pride in the fact that four public schools in Hillsborough County are named for former principals of Hillsborough: Vivian Gaither High School in northern Hillsborough County (16200 N Dale Mabry Hwy), Richard C. Spoto High School in the southern end of the county (8538 Eagle Palm Dr), B.C. Graham Elementary (2915 Massachusetts Ave in Riverside Heights) and Glenn H. Barrington Middle School, (14510 Boyette Road, Riverview.)

 Visit the HHS Alumni Association Website

Visit, the combined media site of the Red & Black newspaper, Hilsborean yearbook and RBTV broadcast programs at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.  HHSToday on Facebook



Nationally Recognized Figures

Decorated Military/War Heroes

Professional Entertainment

Hollywood Walk of Fame/Major Motion Picture/Film Stars/Hollywood Industry Professionals

Nationally Syndicated Artists/Commercial Artists

National/International Cover Models/Supermodels

National Recognized Recording Artists/Studio Musicians/Engineers/Producers

National/International Renowned Orchestra/Opera/Symphony Professionals

Hall of Fame Broadcasters/Nationally Syndicated Television Personalities/Career Broadcasting Professionals

  • "Salty" Sol Fleischman -"Dean of Florida Sportcasters" Sports Director, mainstay, at WTVT, Ch.13 (CBS) Tampa, for over 20 years.

Professional Athletics

MLB -Pro Baseball

NBA/WNBA -Pro Basketball

  • Wanda Guyton -F; member of the two-time WNBA Champion Houston Comets in 1997 and 1998.


  • Jimmy Leto -Wltr.Weight, former two year starter as halfback, and baseball star for HHS, compiled a (99-24-8) record as a pro.
  • Tony Cancella -Hvy.Weight, sparred with Max Baer, in an exhibition bout in Tampa, compiled a (51-28-9) record as a pro.

NFL/NFL Europe/ WLAF/CFL/AFL -Pro Football

NASCAR/NHRA -Pro Auto Racing

USL -Pro Soccer

Athletic Head Coaches


High School

State & Public Figures


  • Andrew Owens -Florida Twelfth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge, appointed in 1983 by Florida Gov. Bob Graham (D), served as Chief Judge in the late 1990s. Owens is a former UF basketball star.
  • Peter Frank Estrada - Florida Tenth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge - appointed 2005 by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush,  County Court Judge - Appointed 2003; Elected 2004, first Hispanic judge in the history of the 10th Circuit.

Mayors of Tampa

  • Dick A. Greco (D) - 50th & 56th Mayor (1967–1974 and 1995–2003)
  • William F. Poe (D) - 53rd Mayor (1974–1979)
  • Nick C. Nuccio (D) - 47th & 49th Mayor (1956–1959 and 1963–1967)
  • Julian B. Lane (D) - 48th Mayor (1959–1963)
  • Junie L. Young Jr. - 46th (Acting) Mayor (1956)

Law Enforcement & Fire Department Chiefs:

  • Anthony Hollloway -Chief of Clearwater Police, appointed in 2010, formerly the Police Chief of Somerville, Massachusetts from 2007 to 2010.

Miss Florida and Miss Tampa Pageant Winners

  • 1965 -Nadine Williams Traum (Miss Tampa), 1965 HHS graduate.

  • 1962 -Anita Garcia Pinella (Miss Tampa), 1961 HHS graduate.

  • 1961 -Jean Cold Davies (Miss Tampa), 1961 HHS graduate.

  • 1960 -Linda Couch Fish (Miss Tampa), 1959 HHS graduate.

  • 1956 -Marsha Montford Strange (Miss Tampa), 1956 HHS graduate.

  • 1952 -Margie Simmons (Miss Florida) (Miss Tampa), 1952 HHS graduate.

  • 1951 -Ann Roberts Maclure (Miss Tampa), 1951 HHS graduate.

  • 1950 -Mary Ester Bartlett Spell (Miss Tampa), 1948 HHS graduate.

  • 1945 -Ruth Atkins Nicolaisen (Miss Tampa), 1945 HHS graduate.




 Cornerstone history of Hillsborough High School scan of original document

Jefferson High School and George Washington Jr. High School History and the D.W. Waters Career Center
The Jefferson High School Alumni Museum


Tampapix pages on Seminole Heights area sights


Memorial Middle School   Seminole Hts. Elementary School

Seminole Hts. United Methodist Church   Seminole Motel   Bo's Ice Cream


History of Hillsborough High School, by Lewis Rex Gordon, Class of 1984
Wynelle Davis Gilbert
History of Hillsborough County, by E. L. Robinson
Hillsborough High School, the First 100 Years; The Sunland Tribune, Journal of the Tampa Historical Society
Hillsborough High School, Wikipedia
Hillsborough High School website
Florida Homes Magazine (M. Leo Elliott)