In 1878, the same year that the Wesleyan Boys' High School, now known as Methodist Boys' High School, was established, by the African Members of the Wesleyan Methodist Mission, the Mission also tried to establish a girls' school, in order to make secondary education accessible, not only to boys, but to their female counterparts as well. However, this attempt failed because Miss Smith, the Missionary who came from England to establish the girls' school, became indisposed and was compelled to return home. Despite this setback, the founding fathers of the school were not deterred, as another attempt was made, in 1879, and this saw the establishment of the school in January 1879, with Rev E.W. Williams, a Nigerian, as her first Principal.
The aims of the founding fathers of the school were to give the girl-child, “The highest literary training, of which they were capable and also to teach them domestic arts, such as cooking, sewing, mending, laundry, etc., and to become good wives and good mothers.” The school therefore, aimed at giving the girls such an education that would enable them to contribute in a practical and meaningful way to the stability of family life within the society.
The school was initially housed in some rooms in the Mission House, located on Broad Street, Lagos, but later, it was moved to a more central, spacious and conducive location, along Marina, Lagos.
The school did not have it all smooth-sailing, especially in the first three decades. She had her moments of fiery trials when “Ichabod” nearly became her closing epitaph. In fact, she achieved, at one time, the epithet “daughters of sorrow.” But by the miracle of God's grace, she was led through the darkness of trial into the sunshine of achievement and success.
On July 26, 1896, the foundation stones of a new school building were laid within the premises of the Wesleyan Mission House. It was sad though, that the building did not go further than the outer walls, which eventually collapsed several years later.
On April 22, 1912, the new buildings of the school were opened at Hamburg Street, now known as Broad Street, Lagos, by the then Deputy Governor of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, Mr. Donald C. Cameron, and his wife. The school was christened 'Wesleyan Girls' High School.'
In 1919, the school was the first to introduce a Girl Guide club, through the efforts of Mrs. Stacey.
In 1929, the House system was introduced and firmly established in the school; first into the Boarding House and later, in 1930, to the whole school. The houses were (as they are now), Nightingale (Mauve), Carvel (Red), Livingstone (Green) and Slessor (Blue). The other two houses – Walker (Yellow) and Obasa (Pink) were introduced in later years.
In 1932, the name of the school was changed from Wesleyan Girls' High School to Methodist Girls' High School. Such a heavy premium was placed on good behavior within and outside the school premises that M.G.H.S. became an acronym for “Must Gain High Standard” in character, manners, academics, athletics, etc.
During the war in the forties, the Navy requisitioned the use of the school premises, so, the school moved to Yaba, in 1942. A store that belonged to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, on Commercial Avenue, was leased to the school, to house the Day students, while another building, 'Oke-Ona Lodge,' located at 56, King George Avenue (now Herbert Macaulay Way), was used by the Boarders. In that same year, the school became a full-fledged secondary school.
In 1945, the school was moved back to its original location on Broad Street, Lagos. It inherited three good buildings left by the Navy. One of the buildings was used as a block of classrooms, while the remaining two were used as boarding house.
Between 1950 and 1951, the school moved to its present site, in Yaba. One of the important achievements of the school during this period was the introduction of Science subjects, up to the School Certificate Level. Another remarkable accomplishment was the introduction of the Higher School Certificate class in the school, for, in 1956, the Ministry of Education granted the school approval to run the Higher School Certificate course.
In 1980, the Lagos State Government took over the school from the Mission. It was an era that witnessed population explosion, which had resultant effects on discipline and corporate life in the school.
In 2001, the Lagos State Government, under the leadership of the Governor emeritus, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, returned Methodist Girls' High School to her original owner, Methodist Church Nigeria.
Late Mrs. O.O. Ofuya, an old girl of the school, became the Principal, immediately after the take-over. She was assisted by Mrs. M. O. Oni (Vice Principal, Academics) and Mrs. M.A. Coker (Vice Principal, Administration). They all worked diligently from the year 2001 till 2004, to redeem the image of the school and to rescue her from the gulf, from which she was thrown during the interlude.
Mrs. Ruth Olusheye Awobiyi assumed office in September, 2004. She was assisted by Mrs. A.O. Ali (Vice Principal, Academics) and Mr. Joseph Oyegbile (Vice Principal, Administration). During her tenure, the Boarding House system was re-introduced to the school. This kicked-off on October 22, 2006, with fifteen students. She also worked tirelessly to raise the standard of the school.
The current Principal, Mrs. A.O. Idowu JP, resumed office in August, 2015. She is a seasoned Administrator and an Educator par excellence, with experience that spans more than fifteen years. She is poised, not to deviate from the norm, but to emulate and build on the lofty ideals, which the school's past heads firmly established; to sustain the high standard MGHS is adjudged to have attained, and even take her higher.
It is an achievement that since inception, MGHS opened her gates wide open to all and sundry, who sought knowledge within her walls, irrespective of their religious inclinations. Thus, the school has contributed a great deal to the education of a large section of generations within and outside the Lagos community and also beyond – Christians, non-Christians, Methodists and non-Methodists alike – thereby, encouraging religious tolerance. The school has been able to give practical application to the unity of this great nation through formal education.
The school has carved a niche for herself, by contributing in no small measure to the development of the girl-child as an individual and the nation as a whole. The influence and impact of Methodist Girls' High School has been and is being felt in every department of this country's life over the years.