South Hills High School

South Hills High School - 1939
South Hills High School, shown here in 1939, served Brookline students from 1917-1977.

South Hills High School, located along the southern slope of Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, was one of the Pittsburgh School Board's primary secondary education facilities from 1917 to 1986. The school was named for its hilltop location in Pittsburgh's South Hills.

The school building and accompanying grounds grew to occupy an entire city block bounded by Eureka, Ruth, Secane, and Harwood Streets. For sixty of its seventy years, South Hills High School served all public school students from the Mount Washington, Banksville, Beechview, Lee, Brookline communities.

Artist rendering of South Hills High School - 1917
Artist's rendering of South Hills High School in 1917.

Floor plan of South Hills High School - 1917

Artist rendering of South Hills High School - 1917
A 1917 drawing of the Ruth Street Wing of South Hills High School.

Originally planned as Bailey High School in 1915, the original Ruth Street Wing opened on April 7, 1917, with 225 pupils in the 9th and 10th grades only. The Harwood Street Wing was completed in 1925. At this time the school became a four-year institution.

South Hills High School was the second high school built and opened by the Pittsburgh School Board. The other was Schenley High School. At the dedication, the Superintendent of Buildings for the Pittsburgh Schools told the audience that South Hills would “equal and in some respects be superior to Schenley.”

Aerial image of South Hills High School.
Aerial image of South Hills High School in Mount Washington.

Engraving on school building    Engraving on school building
Engravings on the school building.

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South Hills Tunnelites

South Hills High School was built in part to serve the children from the recently developed land to the south of Mount Washington (ie: Brookline, Beechview). Investors and improvement firms called this region "Tunnel Land", a reference to the Mount Washington Transit Tunnel, which was the catalyst that led to the rapid commercial and residential development.

With this in mind, the school chose the nickname "Tunnelites." This moniker was reinforced in 1924 with the opening of the Liberty Tunnels. South Hills students and athletic teams were referred to as Tunnelites for many years. The name was eventually changed to "Tigers".

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Taking The Streetcar To School

The school was conveniently located near the Pittsburgh Railways South Hills Junction. The southern trolley network covered each community represented at the school.

The Pittsburgh School Board provided students from the surrounding neighborhoods with a transit pass so they could ride the streetcar to and from the junction. From the car stop, a set of city steps led up the hill to the school building.

Streetcars line up at the South Hills
Junction in 1935 to transport South Hills HS
students home to Brookline and Beechview.    Outbound 39-Brookline approaches the
South Hills Junction transit stop.
Students from South Hills High School board a streetcar for the trip home in 1963.

Streetcars picking up students from
 South Hills High School, which can be seen
 atop the hill in the distance - 1963.
Streetcars picking up students from South Hills High School, which can be seen atop the hill in the distance in 1963.

Classmates from the Brookline neighborhood made the daily trip on the 39-Brookline. For many, streetcar ride was often the highlight of their school day, especially the afternoon trip home.

Enrollment at South Hills High School peaked at 2925 students in February 1939. Thirty years later, in 1969, the school was enlarged with the addition of an annex along Eureka Street.

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South Hills High School Yearbook
The Sesame

Midyear Sesame '32.    Sesame '32.

Sesame '34.    Midyear Sesame '35.

Sesame '36.    Sesame '43.

Sesame '60.    Sesame '66.

South Hills High School
The 1978 Sesame News staff - Seniors Bob Kean, Marlene Blasi-Masucci,
Rich Sbuscio, Barb Stout, Mark Kraski, Michelle Riedel, Tina Corradetti,
Angela Cubito, Clifton Moseley and John Lerchey.

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Athletics at South Hills High

Participation in organized sports, like baseball, softball, football and basketball, was a big part in the lives of South Hills High School students. From the players to the cheerleaders, from members of the band to the spectators who filled the bleachers at Moore Park, scholastic athletics were quite an experience.

South Hills High School Football - 1933.

In seventy years, South Hills Tunnelites/Tigers athletic teams captured a total of fifty-seven city championships in a variety of sports. Here is a list of the title teams:

Football: 1931-32, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1937-38, 1940-41, 1968-69

Basketball: 1921-22, 1941-42, 1948-49, 1958-59, 1959-60

Baseball: 1935-36, 1939-40, 1940-41, 1943-44, 1945-46, 1951-52, 1953-54 1955-56, 1956-57, 1958-59

Cross Country: 1938-39, 1949-50, 1955-56, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1960-61, 1982-83 (B)

Swimming: 1943-44, 1954-55, 1955-56, 1957-58, 1965-66, 1967-68, 1975-76 (G)

Track: 1954-55, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1960-61

Track Relays: 1955-56, 1956-57, 1959-60, 1960-61, 1961-62

Softball: 1976-77, 1977-78, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85

Tennis: 1946-47, 1951-52, 1956-57

Soccer: 1927-28      Golf: 1965-66

1976 South Hills High
School Tigers Varsity Football.
The 1976-77 South Hills High School Varsity Football Team.

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The Final Years At S.H.H.S.

In the mid-1970s, the School Board began construction of a modern high school in nearby Beechview. John A. Brashear High School, located along Crane Avenue, opened in 1976.

Graduating Seniors in the Class of 1977 were permitted to remain at their alma mater. All other South Hills High School students from Banksville, Beechview and Brookline were transfered to the new facility.

South Hills High School remained open for another nine years, serving students from Mount Washington and other city neighborhoods. The aging institution was permanently shuttered by the Pittsburgh School Board after the 1985/1986 school year.

South Hills High School

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Photos From South Hills High School

South Hills HS Football - 1930
South Hills High School - 1939
South Hills Cafeteria - 1946
South Hills Library - 1950
South Hills Teacher Evaluation - 1951
South Hills Shorthand Class - 1953
South Hills Typewriting Class - 1953
South Hills HS Football - 1954
South Hills Admin Office - 1961
South Hills Gymnastics - 1965
South Hills Between Class - 1965
South Hills Woodshop - 1969
South Hills HS Football - 1976
Chick's Corner Store

For more photos from South Hills High School, visit the
SHHS Alumni Facebook Group

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South Hills Retirement Residence (2010-present)

After the school was closed, the abandoned building stood idle for for over twenty years. The once proud learning institution fell into a state of disrepair. As a result, nearby property values began to drop and the city considered demolishing the building.

South Hills High School - 2008
By 2008 the South Hills High School building had become an eyesore to Mount Washington residents.

In an effort to save the landmark structure, it was decided to do a complete renovation and convert the building into affordable senior citizen housing.

Beginning in 2009, the former South Hills High School building, at 101 Ruth Street, was transformed into a 160,000 square-foot sustainable and affordable mixed-use community asset known as the South Hills Retirement Residence.

Artists Conception of the proposed
South Hills Retirement Residence - 2008.
Artist's conception of the proposed South Hills Retirement Residence.

Architects installed a total of 106 apartments. These included both one and two-bedroom suites. The ground floor contains a 7,500 square-foot YMCA Community Fitness Center and a 4,500 square-foot Adult and Day Care Center.

Funding for the $22 million project came from multiple sources, including the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency, the URA, and Allegheny County. The rehabilitated green-certified South Hills Retirement Residence was completed and opened to residents in September 2010.

South Hills Retirement Residence - 2010.
The South Hills Retirement Residence shortly before dedication in September 2010.

South Hills Retirement Residence - 2010.
The South Hills Retirement Residence in July 2022.

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