Covington High School, the predecessor of Holmes High School, was established
in 1853. In 1869, the first graduate, Miss Amelia S. Orr, received her
diploma. Increased enrollment resulted in the construction of a high
school building. Property at the corner of 12th and Russell was acquired
and construction began. The cornerstone of the twelve-classroom, three-story
brick building was set in place on October 25, 1872 with appropriate
early 1900s, excessive noise and dust from the nearby railroad tracks
was causing problems for the school. In addition, the building was reaching
its capacity. In 1914, the citizens of Covington passed a bond issue
to construct a new Covington High School. A committee was appointed
to select a site for the new school. On December 20, 1915, the committee
announced that the 32-room Holmesdale Mansion and the surrounding 17
acres at Madison Avenue and 25th Streets had been purchased for $50,538.36.
The home had been constructed by Daniel Henry Holmes, a wealthy department
store owner in 1872.
A new forty-classroom high school was constructed on the Holmesdale
site. The cornerstone of the building was set into place on November
27, 1916 and the new school was dedicated on January 6, 1919. A special
feature of the building was a gymnasium measuring 100x50 feet. Soon
after the dedication, the name of the school was changed from Covington
High School to Holmes High School. The Holmes Mansion was used as a
cafeteria, band room, offices and a bookstore.
the school system financed the construction of a football stadium on
the Holmes campus. The first home football game resulted in a victory
for Holmes High School against Paris High School (52-0). In the following
year, a new junior high school was constructed on the Holmesdale property.
This building housed grades seventh through ninth and contained 42 classrooms,
two domestic science rooms, two sewing rooms, a gymnasium, locker rooms,
two art rooms and a large music room. Architects E.A. and C.C. Weber
designed the three story brick structure. Enrollment for the 1927-28
school year increased to 714 pupils.
old Holmesdale mansion was demolished in 1936 to make way for a new
administration building. The Works Progress Administration provided
funding for construction. By the end of the 1935-1936 school year, Holmes
High School had awarded diplomas to 3,032 pupils (since the first graduation
By the 1960s, the population of the City of Covington was in decline
as residents moved to the suburbs. As a result, enrollment in the Covington
Public Schools also declined. By the early 1980s, enrollment at the
Covington Public Schools stood at 6,000 students, with 2,300 of these
enrolled at Homes.
recent addition to the Holmes High School Campus is the David M. Evans
Field House and Science Building. This complex was constructed in 1966
and included the largest high school gymnasium in Northern Kentucky.
In 1980, a vocation school was constructed on the Holmes campus costing
$2.7 million. The school was named in honor of Virginia Chapman, a longtime
member of the Covington Board of Education. The Virginia Chapman Vocation
School was eventually merged with Holmes High School in 2000.
Covington School Board established the International Baccalaureate Program
at Holmes High School in 1983. This rigorous academic program is aimed
at the gifted students of the Covington Public School System (and surrounding
Nordheim, Betty Lee, Echoes of the Past: A History of the Covington
Public School System, 2002; Cincinnati Post, October 12, 1956, p. 38;
Kentucky Post, January 14, 1919, p. 1, September 11, 1927, p. 5, September
20, 1927, p. 5 and June 17, 1983; Kentucky Times-Star, October 17, 1936;
Homespun, September 28, 1936, p. 1..