How did Reitz come to be built? Whose idea was it?
In 1914, a women’s club on the westside began advocating for a new school to serve the westside of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. The School Board resisted the idea due to the expense. By 1917, however, the School Board obtained the land, let bids and began construction on what was formerly Coal Mine Hill. Initially called Westside Junior and High School, ground was broken in August 1917 for a full year of construction. The cornerstone was placed in November 1917. School opened September 1, 1918 with 78 students. Classes during that first semester were held in the basement of the original school. The students came from Evansville High School, which had been re-named Central High School.
Originally Reitz Hill was Coal Mine Hill and rumors are there are still abandoned mine shafts criss-crossing under the school. The Reitz Lumber Mill was at the bottom of the Hill, as well. The hill was being developed for housing during the early 1900s and was platted out for scores of small cottage homes. Unlike the large downtown multi story houses, the homes on Coal Mine Hill were bungalow in style – attracting attention because of the view of the river and not their size. The city bought the 12 acres for the new school with plans to create a city park along-side the new school. Eventually the school took all that land.