South High began in the attic of the Adams School at Franklin and Sixteenth Avenue South in Minneapolis. The first class graduated in 1892. The first South High School at Cedar and East 24th Street was completed in the winter 1892. The following year, 250 high school students and 208 middle school kids marched into their new building. Built out of sandstone and red brick, old South High was a castle-like structure featuring a fantasy of turrets stained-glass bay windows, twelve-foot ceilings and a six-story bell tower.
As Minneapolis grew, South High School was expanded by additions. In 1910, manual and training wings were added for business and commercial training. A year later a new 1,913 seat auditorium was opened. In 1916 another large extension was built connecting the new wings with the original structure. Work began on an athletic field, after the First World War. The field on the east side of Cedar Avenue was used by South and Augsburg College’s football team from 1926-1945. Over the years the school expanded to contain a new chorus and band room, to seat 400 students and two new gymnasiums. In 1933, South High School enrolled 2,820 students.
In 1953, South High’s original building and bell tower were demolished, then in 1961, Principal Carl Lundin petitioned the Minneapolis School Board for a new South High School. The decision was controversial and a met with protests by preservationists and alumni. Others rallied in support. A variety of sites were considered for the new building and after nearly five years the school board settled on the current location between 21st and 31st Avenues South. On October 15th, 1967, South High School held a 75th Anniversary Party at the old building on Cedar. Former classmates toured their hallways for the last time. A groundbreaking ceremony for the new structure was held on October 11, 1968. The first class graduated from the New South High School in 1970.