Popular vote on March 12, 1917 approved a bond issue of $175,000 for the construction of Thomas Jefferson High School. In March and November of 1919, two additional bond elections were held and the people approved an additional $100,000 and $200,000 respectively, making a total of $475,000. Due to the World War and legal obstructions, construction did not begin until June 1920. They laid the cornerstone in March 1921. The building is built of Bedford limestone with Georgian architecture and soft pine woodwork. The total cost upon completion was $547,876.04. The dedication program was held on January 21, 1922. Two days later, Tee Jay opened its doors to 716 students for grades seven through ten. Within four yeas, they shifted grades seven and eight to grade school.
Thirty-five students graduated in the first class in 1924. Due to west-end growth and new and better ideas, they made several additions to the school, beginning as early as 1922, when they installed a movie machine in the auditorium. In 1926, they made an addition to the printing room, and in 1920, a large printing press was added to a small type press. They put lights on the football field in the same year. In 1929, a small R.O.T.C. Hall was built and in 1934, an indoor rifle range was added.
One of the schools’ biggest improvements (at the time) came in 1937, when a large band and R.O.T.C. Hall was built adjoining the west side of the old printing room. The printing department transferred to the former R.O.T.C. room and the manual training expanded into the space left vacant by the printing department.
The Field House was added in 1953. In 1959, thanks to several senior classes and the PTA, funds were collected and they approved a covered walkway between the main building and the Field House. They renovated and enlarged a vocational wing in 1963, making it one of the finest in western Iowa. With the increased enrollment of the middle 60’s, a 20-room academic wing was added in 1967. They completely renovated the original building in 1969. Through the years, Tee Jay has progressed and today, as always, it is a complete up-to-date, modern school.
The Memorial on the front lawn inscribed “Fountain of Honor” was erected in the late 1920’s. The inscription reads “By the People of Council Bluffs, Iowa, In Honor of Those Who Served in the World War 1917-1918.” It bears the names of seventy-one men. The memorial is no longer a fountain but is used for flowers. The plaque inside the main building entrance and the small bronze plaque in the student lounge walkway are dedicated to the students of Tee Jay High School who served their country in defense of freedom.
“Before the huge stone, swinging by pulley above its final resting place, was placed in position in the soft mortar, a copper box was place in an aperture made for it. The box was announced to contain the following articles:
• Flag of the United States, donated by Harmony Chapter No. 25 and Council Bluffs Chapter No. 441, OES,
• Copy of the official program,
• A coin of 1921,
• Newspapers of March 5, 1921,
• Clippings from newspapers relative to matters pertaining to the several elections, the bond issue and litigations in connection with the Thomas Jefferson High School,
• A history of the Thomas Jefferson High School by Hon. Emmet Tinley,
• A school directory for 1921,
• The rosters of several Mothers’ and Teachers’ Clubs,
• List of officers of the Most Worshipful grand lodge of Iowa, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, 1921,
• List of Iowa lodges of A.F. & A.M., 1921
• Vest pocket history of free Masonry by H.L. Haywood,
• The Science of Free Masonry by Robert D. Graham,
• Proceedings of the diamond jubilee celebration of the formation of the grand lodge of Iowa A.F. & A.M. held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 10, 1919,
• Quarterly bulletin of the grand lodge of Iowa issue of October 1920, containing an article on cornerstones by C.C. Hunt, “Masonic grand lodge for the year 1920,”
• A copy of the Echoes, published by the pupils of the Lincoln High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa,
• Roster of the Federated Fathers’ Club, 1914-15,
• Copy of Crimson & Blue, Lincoln High School Annual for 1920,
• City Directory and telephone directory.
The address of the occasion was to have been delivered by Thos. Arthur of Logan, Iowa, but he failed to reach the City and his place on the program was taken by W.E. Mitchell of Council Bluffs who delivered a brief but eloquent address in which he told of the part which Masonry has played in the constructive progress of the world for hundreds of years.”
Since the doors to Tee Jay opened on January 22, 1922, there have been ten Principals: Ray F. Myers, Bernard U. Bolton, Gaylord Anderson, Roger Hamilton, Warren Weber, Dr. Steve Hardiman, Judy O’Brien, Lisa Dale, Dr. Jason Plourde, and the current Principal Todd Barnett.