The Official Website of Beaverton High School's Student-Run Newspaper

Beaverton Hummer

The Official Website of Beaverton High School's Student-Run Newspaper

Beaverton Hummer

The Official Website of Beaverton High School's Student-Run Newspaper

Beaverton Hummer

Are there really tunnels under BHS?

Do secret tunnels exist beneath BHS? The unseen areas of the school are hesitantly spoken of by staff and students alike. Teachers shy away from the subject, and theories are only speculated among students. 

Rumors of passageways beneath the school have been circulating among students for years, with little evidence of their existence. Some students theorize that they lead to an underground swimming pool and firing range, while others say that they were made as “bomb shelters during the Cold War.” One student says that the tunnel entrances are sealed, and another claims that it’s because the tunnels are “haunted with the ghosts of students who died at school.”

Many teachers have  similar theories. Mrs. Jennifer Kirwan, a Spanish teacher, jokingly says that the tunnels are “catacombs,” while Mr. Gregory Karakashian, a social studies teacher, jests that they store “textbooks” and “beavers.”

Aside from the fun theories, some staff have a more realistic outlook. One  teacher suggests that the tunnels were invented to conceal pipes stemming from a boiler room. They say that the construction team “needed a place to put [them] so that these giant steam pipes weren’t in the middle of the hall, where they would occasionally blow up.”

With speculation and circulating rumors, it can be difficult to decipher the true origin of these tunnels. However, in recent interviews, it has been confirmed that tunnels run under the original 1915 building, the 1929 building addition, and Merle Davies. 

Lisa Sandmire, a Beaverton Resource Center volunteer, may have the answers. Throughout her work on the Centennial Project, an archival study for BHS’s 100th anniversary, Sandmire uncovered many hidden features of the school. She both confirms and denies many of the theories mentioned previously and adds new information, unbeknownst to staff and students.

Sandmire says, “There was never a swimming pool under the school,” but after doing some digging, she found alternative information. According to a Hummer article published in 1951 by David Porter, there was a “basketball pit” beneath the teacher’s lunch room during his time at BHS. This underground gym was sealed around 1928, just 12 years after the building was opened.

Another Hummer article from 1978 backs this up. The author writes, “The basketball pit… was originally meant to be a swimming pool but converted to a gymnasium instead.” 

Beaverton’s old gymnasium was sealed in the 1920’s (The Hummer, Feb. 20, 1951).

Aside from swimming pools and secret basketball pits, Lisa Sandmire also states that “there was a shooting range under the school,” and Jon Rattazzi, the custodial foreman at BHS, tells us that there “used to be an old rifle range” beneath Merle Davies. This is under MD33, Mr. Webb’s old classroom. 

Back around 1964, BHS had a rifle team that would practice at this range. The idea was to have a space where the team could fire without any accidents. But this all changed around 1983.

During this time, Merle Davies was being renovated to be used as a classroom annex to Beaverton High. The walls of MD, originally wooden, were now being replaced with a much heavier material, which caused an extra need for support beneath the building. Unfortunately, the only way to add this support was to place large concrete posts in the firing range sub-basement. Rattazzi said that this rendered the range unusable, and the area was soon closed off to the student population.

Aside from MD, the main building and auditorium also hold entrances to underground passageways.

There are up to six different tunnel entry points extending from the boiler room and reaching the auditorium, performing arts hall, health careers area, library, student center, and even in front of the College and Career Center. In 1915, when the original high school was built, there was some trouble deciding where they would put the steam-powered heating pipes from the boiler room. At the time, pipes like these had a bad habit of exploding. Steam pressure would accumulate in these pipes and without relief the weaker points in the system would burst. According to one teacher, they decided to make tunnels so that these pipes could run underground instead of in student-filled hallways.

In 1929, the performing arts hall and auditorium were added as an expansion to the original 1915 building. The construction crew again needed a place to run pipes, so they made more tunnels with two entry points. 

The tunnels beneath the main building range from being as large as 6’x6’ to as small as 2’x2’. Jon Ratazzi has been down in the tunnels many times for maintenance and says that they are mainly filled with steam pipes, ductwork, and plumbing.

However, unlike maintenance staff, students may never get to see the wonders of these tunnels due to safety hazards. According to Porter, the post-centenarian tunnels are now “a home to mice, rocks, cobwebs, and steam pipes.”

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About the Contributor
Rachel Streit
Rachel Streit, Editor
Rachel is a junior at Beaverton High School and writes for The Hummer. In her free time, she likes to immerse herself in clubs like theater, robotics, creative writing, and, of course, The Hummer.

Comments (3)

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  • M

    Michelle Hess WaltonMay 2, 2024 at 8:51 am

    Rachael, THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article!!! As a 1984 graduate of BHS and an elementary school graduate of Merle Davies, I am just thrilled to have read this new info! At Merle Davies in the 70’s, I remember walking downstairs under the gym and stage, to the locker rooms there where we would change for gym and shower. There were other doors down there as well, but we never went through them….now I wish we did!!

    Reply
  • N

    Natalie FowlerFeb 2, 2024 at 2:21 pm

    I think secrets are a-foot. There must be more…

    JK

    Very awesome article though, I was previously a student of Mr. Karakashian and a current student of Mr. Webb. Love to see their names up on something like this. Love our history here, GO BHS.

    Reply
  • S

    Sallee LinesDec 6, 2023 at 3:31 am

    What a great read as former student so many rumors about a pool under the school! It sure would be fun to see in all hidden closet and nukes and crannies of the Beaverton before it’s gone forever. It’s sad no other school has the history and fun stories Beaverton does.

    Reply