The original Hillside School, built in 1900 on Virginia Street and Le Roy, near Euclid, burned down in the 1923 Berkeley fire. To replace it, the School District purchased the charred site of what had been eleven homes before the fire and, in 1925-1926, built a new school, designed by W. H. Ratcliff Jr. The District retrofitted the building in the 1930s to meet earthquake safety requirements of the Field Act. In 1965, the School District added the newer-looking wing in the southeast part of the school. Hillside closed in 1983, along with John Muir, Franklin, and West Campus, due to declining enrollment.
After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the School Board authorized a structural analysis of all of its buildings. While Hillside had some structural deficiencies, the analysis labeled Cragmont a potential collapse hazard. Exploring the possibility of moving students from Cragmont to Hillside, the District contracted with the engineering firm Harding Lawson Associates (HLA) to investigate soil conditions at Hillside. The HLA report indicated that a secondary trace of the Hayward Fault went under a portion of the building. The Alquist-Priolo Act of 1972 prohibits public schools from operating within 50 feet of an active fault; therefore, the District may not use the building for its original purpose. It may be possible to build a school elsewhere on the site, but that has not been explored.