The “Old Stone School House” was the first permanent school. It was a two-story dressed stone building that looked white with a clock on all four sides of the bell tower. It had a commanding view of the town. Each story was 14-feet high. It opened in 1875 at the corner of Bijou Street and Cascade Avenue. It was also the first thing people saw when arriving by train. It was considered to be second to none in the Territory of Colorado and accommodated grades one through twelve. Considered by some citizens as too large and expensive when it opened, it was overcrowded within one year. There were five students in the 1879 graduating class, three girls and two boys. The old stone building was severely damaged by fire on January 13, 1890. Until a new school could be built, the Old Congregational Church at 121 East Bijou Street was used to hold classes. The Lever was first published in 1887 and continues to be recognized as an outstanding high school newspaper. Kitty Paster Fryhoffer, a member of the 1887 graduating class, suggested the name reflecting the motto: “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the world.” The school colors, brown for the mountains and white for the snow, were adopted in1892.
Land was acquired for the new school at the northwest corner of Platte Avenue and Weber Street. On January 9, 1893, the new school opened at a cost of $100,000. The Romanesque architecture and pressed brick exterior housed 17 rooms. The bell tower housed a 2,800 pound bell cast in 1879 with a clock on all four sides. The name “Terrors” came into being during the 1890's because the skill of the athletic teams “terrorized” their opponents. They were called the “Holy Terrors.” The name “Terrors” was adopted as the school name. During the school year of 1920-21, Dan Warner organized C Club (known as the broken circle in Terror legend) to promote athletic, scholastic, literary, and social skills. (In 1973-74 girls' sports attained recognition when girls first became members of C Club.) Fred C. Fink, who was the band director at the time, wrote the “Terror Fight Song” in 1923. The “Terror Legend” composed by art teacher Pansy Dawes, was first presented to the students in 1928. It mystically describes the origin of the time honored name of “Terror” and the symbol of the warrior – the broken circle. That was also the year of the first homecoming celebration which featured a bonfire.
By 1929, it was felt that the old school had outlived its usefulness. A bigger town needed a bigger school. In reaction to the recommendation of a Kansas City engineering firm, a business men's advisory committee to the School Board advised the razing of several units, including the 1892 section along Platte Avenue. Two bond issues were passed, and on May 16, 1940, at the cost of $609,000, plus $60,000 for embellishments, “one of the West's most attractive architectural designs” became functional as the school opened. Mr. Edward L. Bunts, class of 1921, was the architect who the designed the 1940 portion of the current high school. (Mr. Bunts was among the original 14 graduates inducted when the Hall of Fame was established by the CSHS/Palmer Alumni Association in 1985.) When it opened in 1940, the original cafeteria took up the entire Platte Avenue wing of the third floor.
Because Colorado Springs was beginning to grow rapidly in the 1950's, four new class rooms were added to the Nevada Avenue wing in 1954. In 1955 a roof was added to create two more classrooms. In 1956, the new Industrial Arts Building was completed at Boulder and Weber. The gym-pool building at Erps field was constructed in 1958. With the building of Wasson High School in 1959, Colorado Springs High School was renamed William J. Palmer High School in honor of General William Jackson Palmer. Known best as a builder of railroads, but also as a successful businessman, military man and philanthropist. William J. Palmer was a Union Cavalry General during the Civil War. He later founded the town of Colorado Springs and subsequently founded the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in Pueblo, CO. He was instrumental in bringing the Denver and the Kansas Pacific railroad lines to Denver. Palmer is perhaps best known as the builder of the Denver and Rio Grande railroad which is the first narrow gauge railroad in the United States. The Denver – Colorado Springs line started service in 1871.
In 1959, there were 612 graduates in the last class to graduate from Colorado Springs High School. The first Palmer HS students graduated in 1960. In 1970, the Auxiliary Gym was built at the NE corner of Nevada and Boulder and a tunnel was built under Boulder to the gym. The goals of the first Alumni Association formed in 1894 were to maintain a closer social union of graduates, to encourage an active interest in the school and to aid in the progressive work of the school. Ninety years later, spurred by those same goals the current C.S.H.S/Palmer Alumni Association was founded in 1984. Its objectives are to preserve the history, ideals and traditions of the school. To promote excellence in education. To promote the participation of alumni in school affairs and activities. And, the fostering of fellowship and camaraderie among the graduates. The tower clock was restored to its rightful spot and was dedicated in May, 1985. The Alumni Association created the Alumni Hall of Fame that same year to recognize outstanding graduates. Fourteen distinguished graduates were the initially inducted. In 1985, the Alumni Historical Room opened on the third floor with a display case in the hall and two rooms of memorabilia on display. The bell project became a dream realized on October 4, 1988, when graduate representatives from each decade rang the bell from the old school, which is now housed in the Bell Tower Plaza in the courtyard. The Bell Tower was designed by Johnny Johnson '62 and was engineered by Bob Lee '41. It was financed by $15,000 in contributions from association members. It was constructed by alumni and students. An ongoing Courtyard Renovation project has added the “Broken Circle” of the Terror Legend, which was constructed with commemorative bricks purchased by Alumni, staff, and students, to floor the Plaza. The bell now rings as a reminder of the heritage and traditions Terrors share. Hall of Fame inductees ring the bell on the day they are inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2004, the Eagle statue created by Charles Green and installed as phase two of the courtyard renovation and continuing brick project was dedicated during homecoming. The school's four mascots are on plaques on the four sides of the base of the eagle. Commemorative bricks fill the 1875 CSHS on the north side of the concrete decorative area and 1959 PHS and TERRORS border the south side. The final phase is ongoing with bricks to be installed on the west and east sides of the concrete decorative area.
In 1991, the commons opened on the Weber Street side of the school because of the planned downsizing of the 3d floor cafeteria. Space was needed for additional classrooms which were added in1992. In 1993, science classrooms were built onto the Industrial Arts Building. In 1999, an addition to the Library was started (berm removed) and the new Library Wing opened in 2000. It houses the library, counseling offices and computer and media labs. In 2001, the Commons was renovated into a student lounge. In 2001 the construction damage to the courtyard was repaired and the Eagle sculpture was installed along with the Boulder Street fence. In 2006, artist Jose Zamora started painting murals in the halls and tunnel of the school. It is an ongoing project and each mural and sign is a masterpiece. Thanks to the voters who care for Public Schools in Colorado Springs, a large bond issue gave Palmer the go-ahead to pursue much needed renovations and on March 7, 2008, the grand unveiling of the newly constructed cafeteria and commons which can seat up to 400 students was dedicated on behalf of School District 11 and the Board of Education. Mr. Tom Kelly, the Principal, made the welcoming remarks. Six new classrooms were added to enhance Science Technology and the Night School Program which feature state of the art equipment. New windows and doors certainly add to the refreshed and climate controlled standards that were so long overdue! The courtyard has since been re-sodded In August, 2008, the front entrance of the school received a new background and school letters. The Palmer High School grand piano is currently being restored from Ron Tuttle memorial fund donations and the Alumni Association. It will hopefully be present in all its former majesty for Homecoming in September, 2008.
Mascots: An English bulldog named Elmer was mascot from 1919 until1928. Later, a traditional Indian was adopted. In 1945, a student named Don Willis, drew an Indian caricature and “Eaglebeak” was born. The student council subsequently voted to make “Eaglebeak” the standing emblem of the Terrors. In 1987, due to pressure from a group who thought “Eaglebeak” was derogatory to Native Americans, “Eaglebeak” became a Bald Eagle known as “Eagle Beak II”. The students refined the Terror Legend to accommodate the passing of the original “Eaglebeak” and his reincarnation as a Bald Eagle.