Santa Clara High School was established by Santa Clara Parish in 1901. Staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the school was originally named St. Joseph’s Institute and educated students in both grammar school and high school. The first school building was a wooden frame convent and school at the corner of 4th and D Streets in Oxnard, which was replaced by a brick building on E Street opposite Santa Clara Church in 1930. The new school building was dedicated as St. Clare’s Parochial School, but it soon came to be called Santa Clara. The bottom floor was used for the Grammar school and the top floor, including four classrooms, a lab and a library, housed the High School.
By 1950, the high school enrollment had so expanded that it became necessary to relocate. Under the leadership of Monsignor Anthony Jacobs, a new facility was built on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Friedrich. The new campus opened in 1951 and included science labs, a home economics classroom, business education classrooms, a library, a chapel, and a convent for the sisters. The recently ordained Rev. Carroll O’Sullivan became the first principal at the new site. The first senior class on the new campus (1952) had 39 graduates.
In the mid-fifties the buildings to be used by St. Anthony’s Grammar school were completed on the campus and the newly formed St. Anthony’s Parish used the grammar school auditorium to celebrate Mass. In 1959 classrooms were added extending the west wing of the High School and forming the “long hall.”
By the 1960’s the campus had reached capacity with close to 400 students. To accommodate the increase in enrollment, S.C.H.S. annexed the building that had housed St. Anthony’s Grammar School before Saint Anthony’s moved across C Street to a new school and church. Also, Msgr. Jacobs invited the Brothers of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy, from the Netherlands to teach at the High school. Over the years until 2001, fifteen brothers would serve Santa Clara High School.
The mid-sixties marked the end of an era with the death of Msgr. Jacobs and the re- assignment of Rev. Principal O’Sullivan. The responsibility for supervision of the school shifted from the Parish to the Archdiocese in 1966.
In 1982 The Sisters of St. Joseph, now fewer in number,moved to St. Anthony’s Convent and their former residence was renovated to provide additional classrooms and office space.
School enrollment peaked in the eighties when the student body topped 800. This growth sparked the need for a hall where the entire student body could comfortably meet. This need, coupled with a long held desire for a larger gymnasium culminated in the building of the Friedrich Pavilion in 1986.