“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
The History of Franklin High School began well before the ground-breaking ceremony in 1914. As early as 1880, Portland newspaper Editor Harvey W. Scott, used the editorial page to criticize school district spending and to argue that 8th Grade was sufficient public education. His challenger was the Rev. George H. Atkinson, who advocated for the traditional concept of “common school” proposing that education should be free, that schools would be financed with taxes, that government should provide a permanent funding source, for local control of schools , that schools should allow religious freedom, and teachers should be certified to meet professional standards. He became known as the “Father of Oregon schools.”Other factors leading up to the construction of Franklin were:
a) a rash of well-publicized school fires in other states. This worried parents who were sending their children to wood-built schools.
b) legislation passed by the Portland City Council in 1910 which required that all new schools would be built using fire proof materials like brick and concrete.
c) burgeoning population growth exceeded the capacity of existing schools. The Portland School District would needed a massive building program to catch up.
In 1914, the 18 acre plot on 54th and S.E. Woodward was out in the country and was zoned as “farmstead.” High school aged students were taught at Creston until Franklin opened. Architect Floyd A Naramore, in keeping with the new, strict fire code, designed the buildings of concrete with brick veneer in the Colonial Revival style. Building was done in stages: the classroom and school office building was completed in 1915 at a cost of $156,105.00. A boiler outbuilding also became operational in 1915. The west wing was built in 1916 at a cost of $104,957.00. Initially it was used as manual arts classrooms, then later converted into a gymnasium. In 1955, this gymnasium was sub-divided into two floors and made in classrooms. In 1924, $233,759.00 was spent to build the new auditorium (east wing.) The excavation of the bowl for football and track in 1940 was easier because it was a sinkhole. Additional classrooms and a fieldhouse were added in 1950; the gymnasium building was opened in 1954; and finally, the Industrial Arts wing was added in 1981.