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Stadium High School from “10 Things I Hate About You”

Oct 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations


Yet another location that I stalked while vacationing in the Pacific Northwest this past May was Tacoma’s Stadium High School – the spot that stood in for Padua High in the 1999 teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You.  The Grim Cheaper and I, along with our good friends Kerry and Jim, visited this locale on our last day in Washington, whereupon we met up with fellow stalker David and his daughter, Olivia (pictured above), who live in the area.  I was especially excited about stalking this location as it is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL place and is so incredibly unique in its architecture.  When I first watched 10 Things over a decade ago, I was actually convinced that Padua High was a set that had been built solely for the filming.  I was absolutely shocked to discover that the castle-like structure is, indeed, an actual high school in real life.  I cannot even imagine being lucky enough to spend four years attending classes in a place like that!  Sigh!

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Stadium High School, which is located in the Stadium District of Tacoma, was first built in 1891 and was originally conceived as a luxury hotel which was set to be named either the Olympic or the Tourist.  The hotel was commissioned by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company and the Tacoma Land Company and was designed by the Philadelphia-area architectural firm of Hewitt and Hewitt.  Thanks to the Panic of 1893 and the Northern Pacific Railroad Company’s subsequent bankruptcy, though, construction on the French Renaissance-style hotel was abruptly stopped later that same year.  The building, which at the time consisted of little more than a roof and exterior walls, was then turned into a lumber storage facility for the struggling railroad company.  On October 11, 1898, disaster struck when a mysterious fire broke out at the unfinished structure, gutting the property completely.  Shortly following the fire, the city made plans to demolish the decrepit building, until the Tacoma School District stepped in and purchased it on February 19, 1904.  Architect Frederick Heath immediately set about transforming the vacant structure into a useable high school and on September 10, 1906, the then-named Tacoma High School opened its doors to its first students. 

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Three years later, Heath set about construction on a 2.5-acre, 32,000-seat stadium on a bluff situated adjacent to the school that overlooks the ocean.  The new stadium was completed in 1910 and was given the name Stadium Bowl.  The school’s name was eventually changed to Stadium High School in honor of the newly-built structure.  The Bowl has been the site of numerous special events and speaking engagements over the years.  Louis Armstrong once performed there and everyone from Baby Ruth to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson have given speeches on the premises. 

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Stadium High School, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, is absolutely breathtaking in person.  With its limestone and brick edifice, wrought iron detailing, and majestic views of Commencement Bay, I am extremely surprised that more productions have not found their way to the campus.


The 10 Things I Hate About You crew spent six weeks shooting on location in Tacoma, dividing their time between the Stratford house, which I blogged about last month, and Stadium High School.  Interestingly enough, according to an August 1998 News Tribune article (which I unfortunately cannot link to as the Tribune does not allow free access to its archives), the movie was originally set to be filmed right here in Los Angeles, but when the flick’s location scouts saw photographs of Stadium High School, they decided its look was perfect for their modern-day Shakespeare adaptation and the entire shoot was moved north.  I find it so incredibly cool that an entire production was moved over 1,000 miles all because of one single location!

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Stadium High School was used extensively throughout 10 Things I Hate About You.  The areas of the school that were featured in the flick include the front entrance . . .

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. . . and, according to one of the teachers that I spoke with while there, a few real life interiors – including the counselor’s office, the library, several classrooms, and a hallway.


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Sadly though, the school’s interior was given an extensive facelift in 2006 and no longer looks the same as it did in the movie.

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Stadium Bowl is the area of the school that was most memorably featured in 10 Things, though, and I am happy to report that it looks pretty much exactly the same today as it did back in June of 1998, when the movie was filmed.  The Bowl first appeared in the scene in which Michael (aka David Krumholtz) accidentally rides his dirt bike off of a cliff.

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It was later used in the scene in which Patrick Verona (aka Heath Ledger) – along with the Padua High School band – serenades Kat Stratford (aka Julia Stiles) with the Frankie Valli song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, which has to be one of my VERY favorite scenes in ALL of moviedom.  Unfortunately, there is a large, locked fence which now surrounds the stadium, so I was not able to venture onto the bleachers to re-enact Patrick’s serenade.  Such a bummer as that was one of the things I had most wanted to do while in Washington! 

You can watch the serenade scene by clicking above.

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And in a bit of trivia that fellow stalker David clued me into – the band Letters to Cleo was actually on the real life roof of Stadium High playing “I Want You To Want Me” during the filming of the movie’s final scene.  And here I thought that whole segment had been shot in front of a green screen!  So incredibly cool!


According to IMDB, the school was also featured in the 1990 romantic comedy I Love You To Death.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂


Stalk It: Stadium High School from 10 Things I Hate About You is located at 111 North E Street in Tacoma, Washington.  In the movie, Heath Ledger danced in the southern portion of Stadium Bowl’s bleachers, in the area depicted by the pink circle in the above aerial view.  Please remember that this location is a school and that it should not be stalked during operating hours when children are present.  And please remember to always get permission from the front office before setting foot on any school campus.



Leave a comment »

  1. NWDude says:

    I went to North Thurston High School in the early 90s but my grandfather attended Stadium in the 1930s. =)

  2. Library Man says:

    Not only am I a 1978 grad of “The Old Brown Castle”, but so were my mother, two sisters, my oldest daughter and all of my sister’s kids. My daughter and Niece were both extras in the filming of the movie, and are in the scene filmed in the courtyard when Krumholtz)’s character indoctrinates Gordon-Leavit to all the groups of the school.

  3. Celeste h says:

    I graduated from stadium in 1998. It’s funny, how many things in that movie were so familiar to my life then.

  4. Dakota says:

    I went there today my aunt is the track/cross-country coach and I got to go on the roof :).it was awesome

  5. Thomas says:

    I went to Stadium in 1987-1988 and graduated with the class of 1990 – I ended up going to a vocational school down the street (Bates) for my final two years of HS, but was still able to participate in walking/graduating with the students at Stadium. I am glad I have this place as a memory and as the place I graduated from. I remember seeing some kids at my graduation asking me “I thought you moved away…what are you doing here???” it was funny.

    It was nice to see this school in 10 things I hate about you as well…such a great place. I still have not been back since the renovations – I was invited but did not go and now I live in San Fran…hope to go back and check it out some day.

  6. Stadium Tigers! says:

    I go here! lol My first year here i was freaked out because the school is HUGE! But once you get used to it it’s not that bad 😉 I swear by the time this year is over my leg muscles are going to be huge from walking up and down all those stairs! Haha

  7. Malinda says:

    One of my favorite movies!! Love this post. The school is beautiful.

  8. Steffi says:

    *lol* Just told Robin about that movie. He’ve never seen it! I couldn’t believe it, actually I saw this movie like ten times! Great, now I can show him that post! Love and miss you!

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