John Marshall High School was named after John James Marshall (1755-1835), the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In 1957 students were used to referring to the fabric of the school as the old building, the new building and the assembly hall. The old building was the original building built in 1893 on Adams Street. The classrooms were on either side of a north-south corridor running the length of the building. On 1 February 1895 approximately two hundred students were transferred to Marshall from the old Grant school. They were the first high school students of Marshall. Dr. Louis J. Block was the first principal of the combined Marshall elementary and high schools.
In 1902 a new east wing was added to the old building. A gymnasium, used by both boys and girls, was dedicated in 1909. That gym was still in use as a boys gym in 1953 as the entering freshmen of the class that would graduate in January 1957 would discover. After 1909 a second gymnasium for use by girls was added to the old building.
In 1916 a new Marshall Elementary School was built to house the growing number of students. In addition a new auditorium and assembly hall with the capacity to seat 1,950 students was built. The assembly hall was later named the Louis J. Block Auditorium in honor of Marshall’s first principal.
In 1926 Dr. Louis J. Block retired. He was succeeded by Mr. George A. Bears. Because of the increased size of the student body some twenty-one portable classrooms were erected on vacant land at Kedzie and Van Buren. With the opening of the school year in September 1928 a branch of Marshall High was opened in the portables. Work on the new building started in 1928. In April 1931 the new building was completed and students moved into it from the portable class rooms.
The new building included a larger lunch room to replace the one on the fourth floor of the old building. More extensive gym facilities including locker rooms for boys and girls were included in the Kedzie side of the new building. The new facilities also included a swimming pool.
At this point the set-up of the school was that familiar to those who attended in the 1950s. The combined old building, Block Auditorium, and new building formed a square bounded by Kedzie Avenue on the east, Adams Street on the south, Spaulding Avenue on the west, and Monroe Street on the north. In addition to the new facilities already mentioned the new building included a print shop, chorus room, and band room, a library, and a new suite of administrative offices. The print shop, chorus room, and band room were located on the first, second, and third floors, respectively, at the north east corner of the building. The library was located on the second floor at the south east corner. The Administrative Offices were located on the south side of the first floor. Moving facilities out of the old building left the large practice room available for the orchestra.
In March 1973 a fire destroyed a large part of the old building, especially the fourth floor. In April 1975, after the removal of the old building, a renovation was begun, completed in July 1980, resulting in a refurbished auditorium, remodeled classrooms, and sandblasting of the facades of the new building and the Block Auditorium.