Oldest schools in California

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Here is a partial list of the oldest schools in California.


  • The first English-language school in California opened at Mission Santa Clara in 1847. It was founded by Olive Mann Isbell, who started the school with 25 pupils in a small adobe at the Mission Santa Clara for $2 a month. The school later moved that spring to Monterey.[1]


  • Little Shasta Elementary Two Room School in Montague is still operating today. It houses approximately 30 students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.


Following the establishment of a public school system in the 1849 Constitution (debated and written in Colton Hall), Colton Hall in Monterey served as the area's public school 1849-1851. Built from 1847 to 1849 as Monterey's town hall and school house from 1847 to 1849, it also served as the public school from 1872 to 1896.


  • California Wesleyan College is founded. California Wesleyan later became College of the Pacific, and is now known as University of the Pacific in Stockton. It is the oldest chartered university in California; its date of charter is July 10, 1851. Its original campus was in Santa Clara; it then moved to College Park in San Jose which is now Bellarmine College Preparatory.[2]
  • Santa Clara College is founded, which later became University of Santa Clara and is now known as Santa Clara University in Santa Clara. Although it did not receive its charter for several years, Santa Clara was the first institution of higher education in California to enroll students.
  • College of Notre Dame in Belmont, now known as Notre Dame de Namur University, is founded. This was the first women's college in California. The university is now co-ed.
  • The pre-collegiate division of Santa Clara College later became Santa Clara Preparatory and then Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. This is the oldest private high school for boys in California.[3]
  • Notre Dame High School in San Jose is founded. This all-girls high school was founded in Santa Clara to complement the College of Santa Clara.


  • Spring Valley Science Magnet School in San Francisco. This is the oldest public school in California. It is the only one of the original 7 gold rush schools in San Francisco that is still in existence.
  • Mills College, the oldest women's college west of the Rockies, is founded in Benicia, California. It moved to its current location in Oakland in 1871.


  • Oak Grove Elementary School in Sebastopol.[4]
  • Saratoga Elementary School in Saratoga.[5]


  • University of San Francisco is founded as Saint Ignatius Academy. It is the first university in San Francisco.[6]
  • Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill. The school is named after Peter Burnett, pioneer and first governor of California.
  • Linda Elementary School in Linda,California.


  • St. Clare School in Santa Clara is founded. It is the second oldest primary school in California still operating.
  • Orchard School began as a school for settlers in San Jose in 1856.
  • Lowell High School in San Francisco is founded. It is the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi, and still operating.
  • Lahainaluna High School on the island of Maui is the oldest documented public High School west of the Mississippi founded in 1831.
  • Sacramento High School in Sacramento is the second oldest public high school west of the Mississippi River, and it is still operating.


  • Minns' Evening Normal School was founded as a private school in San Francisco. It became First Normal School, a public institution, by an act of the California State Legislature on May 2, 1862,[7] and ultimately became San Jose State University.
  • Dunbar Elementary School was established in 1857 near its present location.[8]
  • Vernon School was established in what is now Verona, Sutter County, California in 1857. The school was housed in a hotel and then the town bowling alley. In 1863 a "new" schoolhouse was built which is still standing. It is possibly the oldest standing schoolhouse in the state.


  • Chapman University, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in California, is founded.


  • Saint Mary's College of California is founded in San Francisco. It later moved to Oakland, and moved again in 1928 to its current location in Moraga.
  • San Jose High Academy, the oldest public high school in San Jose, is founded.
  • Heald College was founded in San Francisco. Eventually, Heald College expanded to twelve campuses in California, Oregon and Hawaii before ceasing operation in 2015.[9]


  • Loyola High School (Los Angeles, California) was founded in 1865 as St. Vincent's College. In 1919, the Vincentians agreed to transfer management of the school to the Jesuits. It is the oldest continuously run educational institution in Southern California.


  • University of California is founded in Oakland; the school moved to its present Berkeley location in 1873 and is now the flagship institution of the UC system.
  • Washington Union School District is founded on the outskirts of Salinas.
  • Lee School was founded three miles south of the town of Nicolaus, Sutter County and six miles north of the town Vernon on the Garden Highway. It stayed in operation until 1939. One of the early instructors was Harriett Stoddard Lee who is given credit as the founder of Mother's Day in California.
  • Union Hill School District is founded just outside of Grass Valley.


  • St. Vincent Ferrer, one of the oldest schools in Solano County, is established as the Catholic Free School in Vallejo, California. Its first diplomas were received in 1880. It was co-educational until 1968 when the campus was split between St. Vincent's (all girls) and St. Patrick's (all boys). In the Fall of 1987, the school was fully relocated to Benicia Road in Vallejo, CA and renamed St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School. The original high school building remains on Florida Street in Vallejo as a parish building.
  • Pioneer Union Elementary School District in Hanford, California. Founded to serve the community of Grangeville.


  • Santa Clara High School is established in 1872 as a public school serving the City of Santa Clara.



  • Santa Rosa High School is founded, opening the doors to its current location in 1924. It is the 9th school chartered in California history.
  • Alameda High School is established by the Alameda Board of Education, starting in several locations before moving to its current location in 1926 to meet a growing student population.





Notre Dame Academy for girls high school is established by the sisters of Notre Dame in Alameda, CA. In 1932 St. Joseph's High School for boys was established by the Brothers of Mary on the same block of Chestnut St. In 1985 the schools combined into a co-ed high school now called Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School.








Ramona Convent



  • Robert Down Elementary School is founded in Pacific Grove, California and known at the time as Pacific Grove Grammar School.
  • Leland Stanford Junior University, most commonly referred to simply as Stanford University, is founded at Leland Stanford's horse-breeding farm near Palo Alto.
  • The Anna Blake School for Girls opens in Santa Barbara. The school underwent a number of changes in control and mission, ultimately becoming UC Santa Barbara.
  • Livermore High School is founded in Livermore.
  • Sonoma Valley High School is founded in Sonoma. It was meant to be a feeder school for UC Berkeley.
  • Redlands High School is founded. It is the oldest public high school in the state of California still functioning on its original site, and the first "unified high school" formed from three elementary school districts. Its campus includes the historic Clock Auditorium, built in 1928.
  • Santa Paula High School, founded in 1889 as the Santa Paula Academy, a private school run by the Congregational Church Association. In 1891 the city agreed with the association to convert the Academy to a public school and renamed it Santa Paula High School.
  • Fairfax school district
  • Elsinore High School, in Wildomar, California, was established in 1891.





See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Shannon: "The Alameda, the beautiful way", page 50. BR Printers, 2006
  2. ^ Clark, Shannon: "The Alameda, the beautiful way", page 44. BR Printers, 2006
  3. ^ Clark, Shannon: "The Alameda, the beautiful way", page 49. BR Printers, 2006
  4. ^ http://www.oakgroveunionschools.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=63
  5. ^ http://www.saratogausd.org/saratoga/index.php/about
  6. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20080624193135/http://www.usfca.edu/online/about_USF/USFAlmanac2007.pdf
  7. ^ Santa Clara
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Sevilla, Mario (April 29, 2015). "http://kron4.com/2015/04/29/faqs-about-heald-everest-and-wyotech-campuses/". kron4.com. Media General. Archived from the original on 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2015-06-09. Corinthian Colleges shut down all of its remaining 28 ground campuses on Monday, April 27, displacing 16,000 students. The shutdown comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announcing it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation.  External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^ http://www.mercurynews.com/2009/03/11/with-just-nine-students-left-montebello-elementary-in-cupertino-hills-will-close/
  11. ^ https://www.harker.org/about/history