The foundations of what would eventually become The Harker School were laid by Frank Cramer, one of the earliest residents of Palo Alto. After graduating from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wis., in 1886, Cramer worked as a teacher in his home state before moving to Palo Alto to attend Stanford University. A biologist and lifelong lover of the sciences, Cramer earned his master’s degree in zoology from Stanford in 1893.
In 1891, Stanford president David Starr Jordan influenced Cramer to open the Palo Alto Preparatory School for Boys. The school was renamed Manzanita Hall in 1892, and by September of 1894 the school had enrolled 24 students.
Palo Alto was a young but growing community at the time Cramer founded the school. In 1890, the city boasted only six buildings and 12 residents. Four years later, the number of buildings had jumped to 165 and the city had a population of 700.