In the 1880s, a railroad work crew leader and the engineer by the name of Phillip Campbell, originally from England, had a work camp near where the town now stands.
Mel Allen, a prominent local businessman, told Mr. Campbell if he would build a depot and put in a side track he would name the town which would result from his growth after him. This statement led to Phil Campbell being the only town in Alabama to have both the first and last names of an individual.
The first school in Phil Campbell was a two story frame house built in 1910. It was actually located in the back of the Methodist Church. It was later destroyed by fire.
The second school was built in 1915. It was located at the site of the present school on Highway 5 in Phil Campbell. This school was a two story wooden building. It had only two entrances. At approximately 6 p.m. on Christmas Day in 1924 this building burned.
During the next two years, school was held in local church buildings located on West Railroad Avenue.
Graduation services for the first accredited Phil Campbell High School class were conducted in the Methodist Church. There were only eight students in the class of 1926.
The third school building was rebuilt and completed in 1926. There were two buildings--the main building and the vocational building. The main building of this school was also destroyed by fire many years later. In 1954, the present buildings were constructed.
Since the rebuilding of the school, there have been several new additions including a home economics and agriculture building, band room and the elementary school building which was completed in 1974. More recently, a new elementary building was completed in December 2000 allowing all elementary classes to be held in the same location for the first time. A new lunchroom was completed in August 2003. The auditorium was renovated and completed in August 2003.
The athletic program has always been important at Phil Campbell High School. The first football team was fielded in 1927. There were 13 players on the team. At that time the football field ran along the highway in front of the school.
Football was dropped during World War II. In 1951, Phil Campbell had its only undefeated football team.
Phil Campbell won its first county championship in basketball in 1928. They gymnasium was build in 1941 and the first game played in it was in 1942. In 1947, the basketball team won the state tournament.
The first organized cheerleading squad consisted of five girls and two boys.
The Phil Campbell band program was initiated in the summer of 1962 under the leadership of Mr. Richard Hogan. The first band had 94 members. The band program continues to be an important part of Phil Campbell High School.
On April 27, 2011, a F-5 tornado destroyed much of Phil Campbell and damaging the school heavily. Thirty-seven people were injured during the tornado and sixteen lost their lives. A teacher, Mrs. Patricia Gentry, and two students of Phil Campbell Elementary School were among the fatalities. Ironically, the mascot of Phil Campbell High School in the early days was the "Purple Tornadoes."
For the remainder of the school year 2010-2011, Northwest-Shoals Community College opened their doors to the students and school staff of Phil Campbell High School. When school started in the Fall of 2011, classes resumed in mobile units on campus.
After a historical study of Phil Campbell High School was conducted and completed, demolition of the "old" school began followed by construction of the new facility. At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the students and faculty said good-bye to the mobile units that had served as their campus for 3 years. Everyone was hopeful that the new facility would be completed and classes would begin in the new school the following school year (2014-2015). Unfortunately, there were some unexpected delays. Ironically, just as in 1910 and 1924, Phil Campbell High School was housed in local churches. Mountain View Baptist Church served as the school-site for 7th and 8th grade students. First Baptist of Phil Campbell served as the school-site for 9th and 10th graders. And, Phil Campbell Church of God served as the school-site for 11th and 12th grade students. School was held in these three churches for the first 6 weeks of school.
On September 11, 2014, the staff of Phil Campbell High School began moving their stuff into the new building. On September 15, 2014, almost 3 1/2 years after the tornado, students anxiously reported to classes in the new school. The Class of 2015 was the very first graduating class in the new building. The Class of 2020 will be the first graduating class to have spent all 6 years (grades 7-12) in the new building.