Phillips school was named for Judge William Phillips who was a lawyer, businessman, prohibitionist, and member of the Des Moines Coal Company that was organized in 1865. He was an original stockholder of the Hotel Savory in 1886. The building was constructed in five stages; the original building was constructed in 1914 and the others in 1916, 1925, and 1951. The new gymnasium was added in 1975. The 5th grade addition was added in the 2017-2018 school year.