It might be hard to imagine a huge high school bustling with more 5,000 students at the corner of Sixth and Van Buren Streets these days, but back in the 1930s, that area was the site of the booming Phoenix Union High School.
The buildings now house various classes and offices for ASU's downtown campus, but there's a wonderful collection of memorabilia from Phoenix Union High in the basement of one building (so wonderful, in fact, that we gave it a "Best of Phoenix" award this year).
The beige concrete and stucco building, completed in 1912, was once the Administration Building for PUHS. Now, it's home to the University of Arizona College of Medicine's Virginia G. Piper Auditorium -- and a cool assortment of items from the glory days of PUHS, which closed in 1982, the same year it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Phoenix Union High School was the namesake institution of Phoenix Union High School District, established in 1895. It was the only school in the district until 1939, when North High School opened.
Throughout its existence, PUHS produced championship teams in sports and the arts.
More than two dozen trophies are on display in glass cases downstairs in the auditorium. Many of them are real silver, and very old (the oldest we saw was a relay championship trophy, dated 1915). There's also a track & field trophy (donated by Kiwanis Club) from the First Annual Greenway Field meet in 1926
In addition to the track trophies, there are also numerous trophies for wrestling, football, basketball, and even music and academic competitions. All are in good condition, surrounded by photographs taken decades ago, like the Phoenix Union High School varsity wrestling team shot from 1957. There's also an assortment of PUHS letters, annuals (yearbooks), and uniforms. It's a fascinating look at part of Phoenix's past.
The Phoenix Union High School memorabilia collection is located downstairs in the University of Arizona College of Medicine's Virginia G. Piper Auditorium, 600 E. Van Buren Street. Call 602-827-9010 or visit www.puhsaa.org for more information.
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