Lewis and Clark High School was not always the magnificent landmark it is today. In fact, it was founded in 1883 as schoolhouse called Central School, which became the high school when the city built separate elementary schools to accommodate the steady population growth in the last years of the nineteenth century.
With the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1880, Washington State efforts to attract immigrant labor made it necessary to fund a new, larger high school. In 1891 the city built South Central High School where Lewis and Clark stands now, and then built a second high school (North Central) north of the Spokane River in 1908. Tragically, the original South Central High School was gutted by fire in 1910, leaving only an unsalvageable exterior shell.
After moving all of the students to North Central High, the city built a new school, designed by renowned Spokane architect L.L. Rand (responsible numerous other historic buildings) on the foundation of the old. This is, by and large, the spectacular Collegiate Gothic Style building that stands today.
In addition to the beautiful structural detail dominated by the clock tower and the main entryway reminiscent of fifteenth-century European Gothic cathedrals, the school features a massive central theater with a full-size stage and proscenium, carefully restored to its original splendor when the city renovated the school in 2001 and added modern gym facilities. The halls are lined with artwork and other gifts from past graduating classes, making the school itself a sort of museum. The high school also maintains a rich trove of digital historical information, documenting the 100-year anniversary celebration, a page devoted to LC war memorials, and even a digital archive of yearbooks stretching back to 1908.
As one might imagine, Lewis and Clark High School is of central importance to the community of south western Spokane, serving as host and gathering place for a wide range of events. It is the largest school in the district with around two thousand students, and has produced some notable graduates including Washington State's current Secretary of State, Sam Reed, and Scott O'Grady, the Air Force pilot shot down over Bosnia in 1995.