Ponce High School

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Ponce High School
Ponce High School in Ponce, Puerto Rico (IMG 2887).jpg
Partial front facade view of Ponce High School in Ponce, Puerto Rico
37 Cristina Street

School typePublic secondary
School districtPonce District II
PrincipalDra. Gloria Rodriguez[citation needed]
Enrollment1650+ (2010)
AreaPonce Historic Zone
Color(s)Black, & Red   
Ponce High School
Ponce High School is located in Puerto Rico
Ponce High School
LocationCristina Street, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Coordinates18°00′42″N 66°36′37″W / 18.01155°N 66.61026°W / 18.01155; -66.61026Coordinates: 18°00′42″N 66°36′37″W / 18.01155°N 66.61026°W / 18.01155; -66.61026
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
Builtby 1915
ArchitectAdrian C. Finlayson[1]
Architectural styleNeoclassical
NRHP reference No.87001310
Added to NRHP4 August 1987

The Ponce High School is public educational institution in Ponce, Puerto Rico, offering grades nine through twelve. The school's main building is a historic structure located on Cristina Street, in the Ponce Historic Zone. From its beginning the school has secured a unique place in Puerto Rico's educational history. Of over 3,000 schools erected in Puerto Rico in the first quarter of the twentieth century, Ponce High was the largest, "at a time enrolling more students than all the other Puerto Rico high schools combined", and for many years enrolling more students than any other high school in Puerto Rico.[2] The cost of the building in 1915 dollars was $150,000 USD ($4.02 million in 2021 dollars[3]).[4] The building was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on 4 August 1987.[5] The school has the only diamond-level DECA chapter in Puerto Rico.[6] The Ponce High School building is "among the most important public buildings ever built in Puerto Rico."[7] The school is the oldest continuously-operating high school in Puerto Rico.[1]


The history of the institution dates back to January 1899. On 25 January 1899 a historic fire took place on the lot currently occupied by the High School.[8] The fire is known as the "Fuego del Polvorín" (the Fire of the Ammunition Depot). At that time the lot was used as a U.S. Army ammunition depot. Today a register marks the location of the fire.[9] In November 1899, the new American government authorized the establishment of a public secondary school in Ponce modeled after the American school system. In 1903 the Roosevelt Industrial School was built on land where the US military had its munitions depot that caused the fire.[10] Five years after El Polvorin, in the 1904-1905 timeframe, a two-story building with 12 classrooms was built to accommodate the Ruiz Gandia Grammar School in the same spacious El Polvorin lot. The first class of Ponce High School students formed in 1902.[11] As new facilities were completed, the students were moved to them. For the 1907-1908 school year another building was built called the McKinley building, and the Ponce High students occupied said facilities as well. Construction of the now-historic Ponce High School building on Cristina Street started in 1915 and the building was inaugurated in 1920.[12]


The school is located in barrio Tercero. It faces Cristina street to the north and is bounded on the south by Comercio street (PR-133), on the west by Salud street, and on the east by Trujillo street. Its location is only two blocks from Plaza Las Delicias. It is also diagonally across from the Ponce Free School of Music, the old location of Liceo de Ponce (Liceo Ponceño), an early 20th-century girls-only school. It is also one block from Teatro La Perla.

Construction and appearance[edit]

The main and most historical of the buildings faces north. In the back of this building is a large yard paved with concrete. This backyard contains several other large school buildings. The main building follows the neoclassical architectural style. The front entry consists of a raised portico and a lobby area. The school library is located on the first floor and the auditorium is on the second floor.

At both Eastern and Western sides of the lobby, and at both levels, L-shaped arcaded hallways lead to the classrooms. Two semi-enclosed patios are thus defined between the library-auditorium wing (much higher and wider) and the identical classroom wings facing East and West. Three sets of stairs are symmetrically laid out in the scheme: one of secondary importance at either side of the lobby; the most public one next to side entrances at the L-shaped circulation wings. A third set of stairs faces the patios and is the only one not to connect to the building's basement where more classrooms are found.[13]

The most continuous side of the E-shaped structure constitutes the front facade; it is articulated to best reflect and express the internal organization in plan. Sophisticated neoclassical details, although integral to the building's public "face", are not used with such insistence anywhere else on the building, except for the lobby, which includes some mouldings, cornices and relatively simple pilaster inlays. Set back from the street, the front facade is enhanced by two small green parterres adjoining the concrete-iron fence and sidewalk. The elevation includes Doric columns and pilasters running two stories high, identical pediments at each end and an escutcheon-like crowning piece with a clock. The latter is dead center over the entrance portico. Concrete flat roofs, an extended parapet and a wide horizontal cornice tie together all the elements, therefore underlining the horizontal continuity of the structure. Fenestration consists mainly of wood louvered windows with glass. Some have been substituted by contemporary metal louvered windows, which are found all over the rest of the building.[13]

A most significant feature of Ponce High School is its two-story high, elongated auditorium, which also contains a generous stage area and a U-shaped wood mezzanine supported from the concrete ceiling. Its original lighting fixtures were removed and replaced by fluorescent ones. Classrooms are well lit and ventilated; there are many openings. Walls are plain, having been painted over and over throughout the years. The original wood floor finish is still retained in the library, the auditorium, and many of the classrooms; some have been substituted or changed to concrete. Hallways and stairs are paved in concrete. Vinyl flooring is used at offices. Glazed concrete tile is found at the lobby, where the original iron grilles, of geometrical design, are still in use.

Two small lean-to wood and zinc structures were added a few years ago. The auditorium was adapted to air conditioning features, with acoustic ceiling and related fixtures having been added. In spite of it all, and probably, because of the school's imposing scale, well balanced proportions and well-kept classical detailing, the integrity has not yet been lost.[13]


Ponce High School is one of the five best school buildings built in Puerto Rico at the beginning of the 20th century and one of the most impressive. Between 1900 and 1925 over 3,000 schools were erected on the Island; only four included fully equipped auditoriums (not just assembly rooms) in their design: San Juan's Central High, Luis Muñoz Rivera School in Salinas, Arecibo's own Luis Muñoz Rivera School and Ponce High School. In that sense, these are the most representative examples of school building ideas being developed at the time in the United States by architects of renown, such as Haussander and Perkins of Chicago, Snyder of New York, Cooper of Boston and, especially, William B. Ittner of St. Louis.[14]

Given the date of erection (earlier than for most other public schools built on the Island) Ponce High School emerges, as one of the earlier American government-sponsored construction efforts at such a large scale on the Island. Strikingly significant is the fact that with the choice of building vocabulary (strongly reminiscent of Mc Kim, Mead & White's Pennsylvania Station in New York) the use of the neoclassical style for educational structures was introduced in Puerto Rico. Ponce High School is today one of the most dignified and imposing structures in the city, a fact underlined by its architectural style, scale and overall architectural merits.[14]


So far, the name of the architect for Ponce High School remains a mystery, although many facts point to Adrian C. Finlayson as its designer.[15] Mr. Finlayson was, at the time, architect of the Insular Government's Interior Department, and was responsible for many other structures of similar use, size and style. As such, he is a key figure on Puerto Rico's architectural development.[14] Most historians, however, coincide that Finlayson was in fact its architect.[1]


Its setting — on a block surrounded by other schools also of architectural merit — adds to the school's important urban role. The site itself is a historic one, where the U.S. Army barracks were once located, before a fire ravaged the premises. The event is widely remembered in Ponce.[14]

Partial list of principals[edit]


Some of the Puerto Rico's most important public figures attended this school: three of Puerto Rico's governors graduated from there. Its auditorium sponsored drama events that were later acknowledged as definitive for the formation of a Puerto Rican theatrical tradition. The auditorium at Ponce High molded those beginnings. In conclusion, the architecture of Ponce High stands out among the Island's built legacy for historic, stylistic, conceptual and symbolic reasons.[14]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Maruja Candal Salazar and Neysa Rodriguez Deynes. Museo de la Historia de Ponce. Sala de Educacion. 30 December 2016.
  2. ^ Annual report of the Governor of Puerto Rico to the Secretary of War: 1913. By Puerto Rico Governor. Washington Government Printing Office. Retrieved 14 March 2010. Archived.
  3. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  4. ^ Annual report of the Secretary of War. United States War Department. 1916. Page 325.
  5. ^ Mariano G. Coronas Castro, Certifying Official; Jorge Rigau, AIA, Form Preparer, Colacion. Inc. (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 16 March 1987. In National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Page 1. Listing Reference Number 87001310. 4 August 1987.
  6. ^ Sobresalen alumnos de la Ponce High. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 19 July 2009. Accessed 27 January 2019. Weblink updated 27 January 2019.
  7. ^ Jorge Rigau. Puerto Rico 1900: Turn-of-the-century Architecture in Hispanic Caribbean, 1890-1930. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 1992. p.144.
  8. ^ Grafal, Jason Rodríguez (12 September 2012). "Al rescate de quienes perdieron todo". La Perla del Sur (in Spanish). Vol. Year 30, no. 1502. Ponce, Puerto Rico. p. 8.
  9. ^ Bomberos evocan a héroes del Polvorín. Sandra Torres Guzmán. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 21 January 2015. Year 322. Issue 1625. Page 10. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia Puerto Rico. Ponce: Ponce High.
  11. ^ Report of the Commissioner of Education, for the year ending June 30, 1905. Volume 1. United States Bureau of Education. 1907. Page 317.
  12. ^ a b University of Puerto Rico Law Library. Album de la Clase de 1910: Alta Escuela de Ponce. Ponce High School. 1910.
  13. ^ a b c Mariano G. Coronas Castro, Certifying Official; Jorge Rigau, AIA, Form Preparer, Colacion. Inc. (San Juan, Puerto Rico) March 16, 1987. In National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Page 2. Listing Reference Number 87001310. 4 August 1987.
  14. ^ a b c d e Mariano G. Coronas Castro, Certifying Official; Jorge Rigau, AIA, Form Preparer, Colacion. Inc. (San Juan, Puerto Rico) March 16, 1987. In National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Page 3. Listing Reference Number 87001310. 4 August 1987.
  15. ^ "La Ponce High" por Carlos Aneiro Pérez in Balcón histórico de la Perla del Sur, 30 de junio al 6 de julio de 1993, conservado en el Archivo Histórico de Ponce, PR.
  16. ^ Report of the commissioner of education for Porto Rico. By the Puerto Rico Department of Education. 1903. Page 175.
  17. ^ Carmelo Rosario Natal. Pedro Albizu Campos, Estudiante en Ponce: Nuevas Revelaciones. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Producciones Historicas. 2003. Page 52. ISBN 1-881730-15-8. Published by the Autonomous Municipality of Pone, 2004.
  18. ^ Museo Francisco "Pancho" Coimbre: Parque Liga del Castillo. Revista Hola PR. 17 Sept 2010. Archived 30 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b Annual report of the Secretary of War, Part 3. By United States War Department. Page 346.
  20. ^ Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades. Ponce Ciudad Museo 2001. 2001. p. 91.
  21. ^ a b Museo de la Historia de Ponce. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Education Hall. 30 December 2016.
  22. ^ Luis Fortuño Janeiro. Album Histórico de Ponce, 1692-1963. Imprenta Fortuño. Ponce, Puerto Rico. 1963. p. 375.
  23. ^ "Escuela Superior de Ponce: Una escuela que hace historia", La Perla del Sur, Año 2, Núm. 44, 23 de mayo al 5 de junio de 1984, primera plana; conservado por el Archivo Histórico de Ponce.
  24. ^ Puerto Rico Department of Education. School Principal. Archived 1 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Ponce High School celebra por todo lo alto su centenario. Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Alex David. Primera Hora. 3 March 2003. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  26. ^ Puerto Rico's Secret Police/FBI Files on Suspect #4232070, Pedro Albizu Campos. Archived 2 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine Federal Bureau of Investigation. In, "Freedom of Information - Privacy Acts Section. Office of Public and Congressional Affairs. Subject: Pedro Albizu Campos. File Number 105-11898, Section XIII." Page 38. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  27. ^ Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia,By Vicki Ruíz, Virginia Sánchez Korrol, Inc NetLibrary; Published by Indiana University Press, 2006; Page 164; ISBN 0-253-34680-0, ISBN 978-0-253-34680-3
  28. ^ Instituto de Cultura PuertorGriqueña. Archived 15 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Mayo en la Memoria. ICP. (c)2003. Accessed January 10, 2011.
  29. ^ Biografia Completa de Juan H. Cintrón García. Archived 15 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine Ileana Cintrón Cintrón. Page 1. March 2013. Ponce, Puerto Rico.
  30. ^ Luis Fortuno Janeiro. Album Historico de Ponce (1692-1963). Page 245. (Ponce, Puerto Rico: Imprenta Fortuno. 1963.)
  31. ^ Prof. Manuel Gonzalez Pató. Luz D. Nuñez Franceschini. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  32. ^ Biographic sheet on Montaner, Francisco "Paquito". Baseball. Museo Francisco Pancho Coimbre. August 10, 2010.
  33. ^ "Teodoro Moscoso :: Essays Papers". 123helpme.com. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  34. ^ Elin Ortiz. Fundacion Nacional para la Cultura Popular. 2018. Accessed 12 May 2018.
  35. ^ PAGÁN, Bolívar (1897—1961).
  36. ^ Mildred González Valentín and Samuel Pérez. Francisco L. Porrata-Doria, reseña biográfica. From "Francisco L. Porrata-Doria Pando: su vida y su obra (1890-1971)". 1990 (unpublished).
  37. ^ Un Hombre para la Historia: Ernesto Ramos Antonini, Galeria de Fotos 1, Anuario Ponce High. Ernesto Morales Ramos. 2005. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  38. ^ "Biblioteca Municipal e Infantil Mariana Suarez de Longo", brochure. Ponce Municipal Library. March 2010.
  39. ^ Cuarzo Blanco. Luis Torres Nadal. Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular. 2018. Accessed 12 May 2018.
  40. ^ Luis Torres Nadal. Cuarzo Blanco. Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular. 27 July 2006. Accessed 12 May 2018.

External links[edit]