Our History

Our History

World War II was raging, and thousands of patriotic Americans were pouring into San Diego to build up the war effort that ultimately defeated the Nazis and Axis powers. It was 1943.

The business end of the war effort meant there had to be houses for the defense workers. Thousands upon thousands of temporary houses were constructed across an old olive grove overlooking Mission Bay in the neighborhood of Linda Vista. Temporary quarters were opened on Chesterton Street, and so the area became known as Chesterton. A temporary school, which was built to educate the children of defense workers, also took that name. Soon Chesterton became the largest elementary school in the city.

 After the war, the neighborhood remained, and the school thrived. The first permanent piece of the school was the cafeteria and auditorium in 1958, still in use today.


Over the last half century, many generations of students learned to read and write at Chesterton. At its high point in 1954, post-World War II and during the Korean War, the school had more than 1,300 children enrolled. The following year, the temporary housing served by Chesterton school was closed and enrollment dropped to 400. However, enrollment tripled again in the 1960s with the opening of Capehart Navy Housing. Once again, it was necessary to bring in portable bungalows for classrooms turning Chesterton into one of the biggest schools in the city.

In 1975, more than 30 years later, everything changed when Chesterton became fully permanent and here to stay. The San Diego Unified School District has a history of naming schools for heroes of history, both global and local; however, many stories have circulated as to who inspired the naming of Chesterton School. Was it after the great British writer, religious philosopher, and journalist G.K. Chesterton? Was it after Frank Chesterton, winner of the All-England Open Badminton Championships in 1909 and 1910? Our school is named not after a person but a street, which through those quirks of history, no longer exists.

Chesterton School now sits on Wheatley Street, but in its own way was named after an ideal of regular Americans pulling together in a heroic way to defeat the greatest threat to democracy in history, and that is an ideal of which our students can be proud.

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