Phoenix Union High School Established in 1895.

The the first student body numbered 90 students. The school was held in the old Central School building on the second floor, which later became approximately the San Carlos Hotel property…After two years the District was authorized by the voters to purchase the old Churchill residence at 5th Street and Van Buren for PUHS at a cost of $15, 000. In 1898 the first classes were held at that site. Classes grew rapidly, another $10,000 was allocated for remodeling to the North. The building stood until 1949, when demolished for a cafeteria.

In 1910 Phoenix’s population had reached 11,134 and there were 300 students enrolled at PUHS. Temporary buildings were build in 1909 to accommodate the increase. A bond issue was rejected in 1919 to remodel the failing buildings. Additional buildings were build in 1929. Now the City of Phoenix population numbered 29,053 and the students at PUHS was 1000.


PUHS Auditorium - circa 1950's

Phoenix Union High School
Auditorium Photo 1955

It was the only secondary education school in the Phoenix area until 1939 with the creation of North Phoenix High School. Many cultural events were held on the campus, especially at “Montgomery” stadium, such as the “The Masque of the Yellow Moon”.

Carver High School was combined with PUHS in the Fall of 1954. The last year for Phoenix Technical school was 1955, which also became part of Phoenix Union High School. Then in the Fall of 1956, the Class of 1960 started as freshman. At that time Phoenix Unions was the largest high school west of the Mississippi. That freshman class had more students than the entire Phoenix Union student body of 1929. Relief and sadness of many of our freshman went on to continue at the newly build Carl Hayden and Central High Schools in 1957.  This was the year (1957-58) that Earl McCullar was appointed principal of Phoenix Union.

The Phoenix Union High School’s last class was in 1982. Thanks to the Alumni and the City of Phoenix, three of the original buildings remain. Including the Auditorium, where the PUHS Alumni Historic Center is located.


Thomas J. PappasPUHS Class of 1958

Thomas J. Pappas
PUHS Class of 1958

The following was composed by Harriet (Cunnngham) Zeaman, Class of ’55,  in the Phoenix Union High School Alumni Directory during 2002. The first paragraph contains information on the origins of the PUHS Alumni Association.


It was Tommy who was determined to begin an Alumni Association when he invited a dozen or so graduates who were active in their class reunions to meet with him. Then, he told us we were to bring our mailing rosters to the meeting where we began to organize.

The second meeting brought over a hundred alums to the Matador Restaurant’s meeting room where we voted on officers and this was the real beginning of the P.U.H.S. Alumni Association. At present, nearly 5,000 Coyote Journals are sent per issue, and is published four times a year. 

At the height of the festive evening of November 24, 1989, he was doing what he loved, dancing. He suffered a fatal heart attack at the Annual Alumni Association’s Dinner Dance. Knowing it is what he would want, we continue the dances, encouraging alums to get together on a regular basis. He was known to have made the statement that “when my time comes, I want to be dancing”. 

His vision was to keep the focus on unity of the alumni, to keep the name Phoenix Union in the foreground, preserve the memorabilia and he would have fought to keep the buildings on the National Register of Historic Sites. His dreams continue to be the greater vision of the Association. 

Tommy, thank you and we’ll never forget to “Fight On” for the causes you strove to attain. I will always remember the honor of being the Secretary to the First President.


Hariet (Cunningham) Zeaman
Class of 1955

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