The land for the school was purchased in 1925 and the cornerstone was laid Jan. 28, 1927. This massive red brick building was designed in the Gothic Revival style by local architect Francis Kennard. The building was built to accommodate 2,000 students and was completed in Sept. of 1928 at a cost of $757,000. The stained-glass windows in the auditorium were added in the 1950s and in 1976 the building was remodeled to allow for central air conditioning. During this time the students attended the new Jefferson High School on Cypress St. in double-session classes. The walls, buttresses, spires, and tracery of the arched stained-glass windows are decorated in cast stone.
Since Hillsborough had a reputation of outgrowing its buildings, this school was built extra-large with the idea that the students would not be able to outgrow it easily. It was originally built with fifty-six classrooms, a five hundred and ninety foot corridor, a spacious library which contained over eight thousand books, two large study halls, a school bank, a complete home economics unit which included a three-room apartment, and a Gothic style auditorium with a seating capacity of about twelve hundred. The campus alone covered a space of about twenty-three acres, and the building had a roof space of about three acres.
The building seemed too large for the expected enrollment of thirteen hundred. It was built to accommodate two thousand students. In September 1928 the first classes were enrolled. It was dedicated in December of that year, and was one of the four largest high schools in the South. When the school opened in 1928, Mr. F. J. Spaulding was principal. A fountain was purchased in his honor and placed in the middle courtyard. It was later moved to the side entrance of the auditorium in an area entitled Spaulding Court. The fountain was removed and replaced with a tree that was brought from Spain as a seed. It was replaced with a Florida Palm.
In 1933, F. J. Spaulding resigned as principal to become full-time president of the University of Tampa. Mr. Vivian Gaither succeeded him and remained principal for thirty-three years. The football field was renamed in his honor but was changed back to Terrier field with the opening of Gaither High School. In 1949, the clock in the tower was purchased in honor of those who lost their lives in World War II. A list of names of the Hillsborough students who were killed was placed on a plaque under the tower. Chimes are played at Christmas and on Memorial Day.