While the Davis-Eisenhower rivalry’s fairly entrenched now, there was a time when all Yakima students went to the same high school.

And, sorry Cadets, it wasn’t Ike.

Originally known as North Yakima High School, the school was established in 1890 at North Fourth Avenue and West A Street. At that time, it had 13 students, and offered one class each for ninth, 10th and 11th grades. There was no 12th grade, as students graduated in 11th grade.

By 1896, enrollment increased to 40, and the school moved across the street, where the Yakima School District’s administrative offices are located today. Its first class of four-year high school students graduated in 1901.

But the school had to move again, as the city — and the student population — grew.

North Yakima’s Board of Education purchased 
3.5 acres at the current site of Davis High School for a new school, which was completed in 1908.

The new school, with its distinct castle-like architecture, was designed to house up to 690 students. Angus C. Davis served as the school’s principal until 1913, when he was named superintendent.

It was at this school that President William Howard Taft stopped to talk to students during his 1909 visit to the city.

The school’s most famous alum was William O. Douglas, who graduated in 1916 as valedictorian and returned in 1920 to teach English before heading off to law school. Douglas would go on to become the longest serving Supreme Court justice, serving from 1939 to 1975.

Over time, additions were made to the school, including a gymnasium, wood working shops and rooms for the performing arts. The present auditorium was added in the 1930s, when enrollment at the school reached 1,700.

By the 1950s, enrollment reached the point where it was necessary to have a second high school. In 1957, Dwight D. Eisenhower High School was built.

Yakima High was showing signs of age, and it was decided in 1965 to design a completely new high school on the same site, which was built in stages between 1965 and 1978, giving it what some said was a “completely new and modern look,” but some lamented the loss of the iconic building.

When the building was complete, it was renamed A.C. Davis High School, after its early principal and longtime school superintendent. Cathy Douglas Stone, Douglas’ wife, was one of the speakers at the ceremony.

In May 2009, voters approved a $114 million bond for school construction and renovation, of which $42 million went to Davis for another facelift and modification.

Davis High was rededicated Sept. 21, 2015, nearly three years after work began.


It Happened Here is a weekly history column by Yakima Herald-Republic reporter Donald W. Meyers. Reach him at 509-577-7748 or dmeyers@yakimaherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/donaldwmeyers.