When Portland High School became coeducational in 1863, the girls' entrance was via Congress Street (now an alley way to the rear entrance of the school). Reluctant to admit girls but wishing to save money by having only one high school, the School Committee voted: "Whenever boys and girls use the same room to recite, the sexes enter at different doors, and retire the same way when the recitation is ended, being thus entirely separate except when in the presence of the teacher." Although secondary education for boys began in 1821, girls were not admitted to high school until 1850. Girls' High, which was built on Chestnut Street in 1851, became the normal school and later the Moses Woolson Elementary School, named for their first principal.
Along the walkway behind the high school to Elm Street, note the sculpture, The Ascent, by Thomas K. Kennedy (1991).