Filed Under Architecture

Cleveland Heights High School

Cleveland Heights High School, referred to simply as "Heights," originated in 1901 on the site of the present-day Boulevard Elementary School, near the intersection of Lee Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. Cleveland Heights High School's first graduating class, in 1907, numbered just five students. The school soon became too small for the growing student body and a new Cleveland Heights High School, designed by Walker and Weeks and fronting Lee Road just north of Euclid heights Boulevard, opened in 1916. It too was soon deemed inadequate.

The current Cleveland Heights High School at Cedar and Lee Roads was constructed in 1926, with the previous school rechristened Roosevelt Junior High. The new "Heights" was built to resemble a Tudor castle, featuring a clock tower and high columns that framed a grand main entrance. Architects and school officials tried to make sure that the new school would be large enough to accommodate the ever-growing district's needs. Indeed, a headline from a few months before the school's opening declared, "New Heights High Dwarfs Old One." The same article commented on the school's "mammoth stage" and marveled at the fact that "wires for a radio have been put in every room with a central apparatus in the office to relay outside programs." When it opened, the school was called "one of the most beautiful and commodious school edifices in Greater Cleveland."

Nonetheless, expansions to Heights High over the years were necessary to accommodate a student body that at one time approached 3,000. Perhaps the most noticeable of these changes occurred in the 1960s when a new "Science Wing" added along Cedar Road closed off the front of the school, creating an interior courtyard. As enrollment is now much lower (1,700), this long-controversial segment of the school was removed as part of a massive renovation completed in 2017.

Heights High has always been known for its excellent academics, particularly in the music and drama departments. Still, many methods of education have necessarily changed. In 2004, Heights became a pilot school for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Small Schools movement, dividing the one big school into five small schools based on different learning styles and areas of focus. The experiment ended in 2015 when the small schools dissolved in favor of returning to a comprehensive high school.


The Dress Code Collapses Donna Spence Boswell describes how the dress code came to an end at Cleveland Heights High School. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
Separate Pools Barbara Wherley, who attended Heights High in 1968-71, tells about the high school's separate pools for boys and girls and how students had to wear school-issued swimsuits, which often created some problems. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
Thirty Among a Thousand Barbara Wherley extols the benefits of homeroom, in which she got to know thirty classmates well--something that would have been much harder in her high school class of 1,000 students. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
Jeans and Lunch Out Barbara Wherley attended Heights High at the time when the school administration decided to allow students to wear blue jeans and leave campus for lunch. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
Meeting Alumni for the First Time Barbara Wherley gives an indication of one of the results of attending such a mammoth high school--meeting some of her one-thousand-strong Class of 1971 decades later for the first time. Source: Courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights
More Than Merely Teachers... Lisa Hunt remembers the teachers who had an impact on her as a student at Heights High in the mid-1980s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
A Whole Mess of Fun Lisa Hunt remembers setting up the decorations for the Heights High homecoming dance in the late 1980s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


Heights High, ca. 1926
Heights High, ca. 1926 This view of Cleveland Heights High School was taken from the southwest corner of Derbyshire and Lee Roads. It was probably taken sometime not long after construction on the school had finished. | Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society Date: ca. 1926
Heights High Band, 1936
Heights High Band, 1936 The Cleveland Heights High School Marching Band forms an "H' on their home football field during a game against Lakewood High School. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Spring Concert, 1948
Spring Concert, 1948 The Cleveland Heights High School Concert Band performs their annual spring concert at the school's auditorium in 1948. Heights has long been noted for its strong music programs, benefiting from the involvement of members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Aerial View, 1951
Aerial View, 1951 Cedar Road runs in the foreground of this aerial view of Cleveland Heights High School from 1951. Renovations in the 1970s would alter the school's appearance, adding new sections along Cedar Road in front of the original 1926 building, where in this image there is only a lawn. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Expansion Sketch, 1960s
Expansion Sketch, 1960s This artist's rendering shows the expansion plan instituted at Heights High School during the 1960s. The new addition added along Cedar Road blocked much of the street-level view of the original school building and created an interior courtyard where an open lawn previously stood. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
View From the Top, 1928
View From the Top, 1928 This is the view from an upper floor of the high school in 1928, looking south from the front of the building towards Cedar and Kildare Roads. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Women's Gym Class, 1928
Women's Gym Class, 1928 Female students perform calisthenics in the Heights High gymnasium in 1928. At that time, boys and girls had separate gym classes. Source: Cleveland Heights High School
Interior Courtyard
Interior Courtyard Before the addition of the new Science Wing that created a new front of Heights High and turned this open space into a courtyard, the scene shown here would have been visible from Cedar Road. Source: Caldron, 1963 Date: ca. 1962
Student Antiwar Demonstration
Student Antiwar Demonstration These CHHS students gathered for a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Their banner references President Richard Nixon's dubious claim in a televised speech in November 1969 that a "Silent Majority" tacitly favored his administration's prosecution of the war. Source: Caldron, 1970 Date: ca. 1969
Courtyard, 1975
Courtyard, 1975 A student speaks with a member of the faculty in the courtyard at Heights High in 1975. Source: Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Restored Front Facade of Heights High
Restored Front Facade of Heights High Completed in 2017, Heights High's extension renovation included careful restoration of the original 1926 building's exterior, removal of a number of later additions, and construction of new facilities. The original auditorium was among the interior features that enjoyed a thorough restoration. Creator: J. Mark Souther Date: August 19, 2017


13263 Cedar Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118


Michael Rotman, “Cleveland Heights High School,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 23, 2024,