Forgotten Atlanta Public Schools – Schools A-D

Over its 140-plus years of existence, the Atlanta Public School System managed to evolve from just 6 schools in 1872 to well over 40 schools in the twentieth century. In the previous posts, I focused on the very first schools to open in 1872 with the newly created Atlanta Public School System. While those six schools were the first, several others would open a few months, year, and even decades after the first schools to open. Though some of the schools are still in operation, most of the schools were later abandoned or completely forgotten about. It wasn’t until I conducted further research (utilizing old newspapers, books, and the city directories) that I discovered dozens of early nineteenth and twentieth-century schools in Atlanta that I had never seen nor heard of. For the purpose of this blog, a brief synopsis of each school will be provided if known.


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George W. Adair Elementary School (July 2, 1912 – 1960’s):

Construction of the new George W. Adair Elementary School (previously mentioned here George W. Adair Elementary School Post ) was completed during the summer of 1912 and was designed by then, up-and-coming architect, Edward W. Dougherty. The school opened it’s doors in September of 1912, as was described as being one of the “handsomest in the city.” The school site was presented to the city by George and Forrest Adair. Adair Elementary school is nestled in the Historic Adair Park neighborhood. An in-town neighborhood subdivision initially designed by George W. Adair in the late 1890’s, but continued by his sons George and Forrest Adair in 1910. George W. Adair Elementary remained in operation until the 1960’s.


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Ashby Street School (1911 – 1994):

Ashby Street School originally opened in 1911 as an all-white school.  Children grew vegetables in the back of the schoolAs the West-End neighborhood changed in demographics due to the 1917 Great Fire, white student enrollment changed dramatically by 1918. Due to a declining enrollment in white students, the school board voted to close Ashby Street School and reopen as a “school for Negroes,” July of 1919. According to The Atlanta Constitution, only 9 white families owned their homes in the West End at this time as well. Due to the changing demographics, Ashby Street School was reopened as predominately African-American for the 1920 school term. The first principal of new African-American school would be H.L. Green, followed by Mrs. Harriet Randolph Bailey. In addition to traditional grammar school classes, Ashby Street School also provided schooling for the deaf community as well.

By the late 1920’s Ashby Street School would become the largest school African-American students in the Atlanta Public School System, and in the entire state of Georgia. As segregation caused African-American’s to have very few options in terms of places to live, the influx of African-American’s caused a storm of hateful actions by neighboring whites and the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK would firebomb Ashby Street School in 1922 with another mysterious fire gutting the building in 1926. Ashby Street School would be rebuilt in 1928 using the remaining walls that survived the 1926 fire.

Ashby Street School was renamed as E.R. Carter in 1944 after the cherished Atlanta Reverend, E.R. Carter who presided over Friendship Baptist Church for more than 50 years.  Toward the end of 1975, the school board wrestled with closing E.R. Carter as well as the R.L. Craddock schools. The decision was met with anger and protests by West End residents as they realized the closing of Carter and Craddock would leave local children without an elementary to attend.  The school remained open until 1994 when it finally shuttered its doors. As of 2015, the abandoned school has been converted into a multi-million dollar Families First Resource Center. It is great to see a historic building become repurposed rather than bulldozed for another run-of-the-mill office building.

Battle Hill School ( the early 1900’s? – Late 1960’s?):

Not much is known about the Battle Hill School located in the West End part of Atlanta. A 1922 Atlanta Constitution article states that the Board of Education voted to abandon Battle Hill school and provide a new annex at Lucille Avenue school that would accommodate Battle Hill attendees. The school was deemed dilapidated in 1955, and the Community Civic group begged the local community for assistance in updating the old wooden frame.


Bell St School 1911 Sanborn Map
Bell Street Public School. 1911 Sanborn Map


Bell Street School (1900 – 1940):

Bell Street Elementary opened in September of 1900 in hopes of relieving the overcrowding of Ivy Street, Calhoun Street, and Marietta Street schools. Similarly to Ashby Street School, Bell Street School initially served the white community before transitioning into a predominately African-American school. When it first began, Bell Street held classes upwards to the 7th grade.

Bell Street School would operate until 1940 before it was demolished to make way for the Grady Homes housing projects. Students who attended Bell Street School would later enroll in Younge Street School, making it one of the largest elementary school for African-American students in the 1940’s.


Boulevard School (1888 – 1922):

in 1887 children residing near Boulevard in the Fourth Ward district were without a school to call their own. Due to lack of accessibility to neighboring streets, Fourth Ward children were barred from attending neighboring Calhoun Street school. Due to the hazards of nearby streets and the need to accommodate local Boulevard children, the Board of Education voted to build a new school on the corner of North Boulevard and Irwin streets for the Fourth Ward children to attend.

In 1888, the Boulevard school officially opened its doors at the site of the “Beerman Lot.” In 1891, two new rooms would be added to accommodate the growing student body. Somehow, the Boulevard school managed to survive the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, only to be reduced to cinders the night of February 19, 1918. It is believed that the school caught fire due to a defective flue. By the time local firemen had arrived, the wooden frame had morphed into a “seething furnace of flames,” injuring a few firemen who dared to battle the blaze. Unfortunately, the school was a total loss, and a new fire proof replacement had to be built.

Four years after a new Boulevard School was erected, the school would be bought by Morris Brown College in 1922 for $60,000. Former Boulevard pupils would be transferred to the Faith school.


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Calhoun School ( 1883 – ?):

The Calhoun Street School was in built in 1883, with a capacity of 443, at least eleven years after the first APS schools opened in the winter of 1872. Keeping with the tradition of naming schools after the streets for which they were built upon, the Calhoun Street school was located near the Currier and Calhoun Street. Calhoun Street is now known as Piedmont Avenue, not too far from the location of the State Capitol.

A 1922 Atlanta Constitution article discusses the consolidation of the old Ivy Street school (student body total: 300) with the Calhoun Street School (student body total: 382) into a facility with the capacity to hold 1,000 – 1,200 pupils. The replacement school would be named Ansley Park.


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Carrie Steele Logan Orphanage (1888 -):

Though not a traditional school in the sense of an Atlanta Public School system school, the Carrie Steele Logan Orphanage gets and honorable mention since it is listed as a “colored public school” in the Atlanta City Directory. Founded in 1888 by former slave Carrie Steele Logan, the orphanage provided educational needs to some of Atlanta’s most destitute orphans. Mrs. Steele – Logan started the orphanage after growing concerned with the incredible amount of homeless African-American students in the downtown Atlanta area. Initially, the orphans were housed in an abandoned box car; after a few years of fundraising through donations and sales from her autobiography, Mrs. Steele-Logan was able to secure enough funds to build a permanent location for her orphanage in 1892.

Located at 301 E. Fair Street (later named Memorial Drive), Mrs. Steele served as the director of the orphanage until her death in 1900. The orphanage’s location would remain in its original location until 1963 when it was moved to a much larger location of over twenty-three acres of land on Roy Street in Atlanta. In 1950, Carrie Steele Orphanage was renamed as The Carrie Steele – Pitts Home in honor of the Clara Maxwell Pitts who served as director from 1909 to 1950. Today, the Carrie Steele – Pitts Home is located on on Fairburn Rd. and still operates as a safe haven for orphaned children and runaways. Children are still offered a place to become educated, but also learn life lessons, employment skills and receive religious teachings as well. Though not an official public school, the Carrie Steele – Pitts Home serves as an important asset to the schooling of Atlanta youth.


Center Hill School WPA built 1936
Center Hill Elementary School


Center Hill Elementary School (September 1934 – 1983?):

Works Progress Administration (WPA)  constructed an elementary school for African-American students in the Fall of 1934. Not much else is known about Center Hill other than it was included in the 1982 listing of APS schools in need of shutting down.

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Commercial High School ( 1889 – 1947):

Commercial High School’s history is littered with instability. While most early APS schools moved several times before settling in a permanent location, Commerical High School may have been relocated more than Boys High School.  Before the mandated co-educational ruling in the 1940’s took place, Commerical High was actually the first co-ed high school in the city of Atlanta.  It was also the first high school to focus on business related curriculum, in hopes of preparing students for the changing job market. Commercial High was the brainchild of Mrs. Hamilton Douglass, a Girls High School instructor who saw a need for business-oriented curriculum. She noticed the commercial, business and industrial growth of Atlanta and saw a need to prepare students for the changing markets. Mrs. Douglass took her ideas to the school board, and in 1889 the board implemented business-related courses such as stenography, accounting, banking and typing courses.

The board appointed Mrs. Douglass to head the business department of Girls High School.  In 1907, after 18 successful years, the department was expanded and reorganized. As the department expanded, the need for a larger space was critical. In 1910, the departments’ 147 students and 5 teachers moved to a rented space in the St. Philips Cathedral on Washington Avenue and changed its name to English-Commercial High. The high school was featured in the Atlanta Constitution in 1913 detailing the cramped conditions of the students and the need for more funding to pay for the proposed new school lot on Washington and Woodward Avenue. The new school would cost $75,000, yet only $10,000 was deposited toward the new building. Meanwhile, while funds were being secured, English Commerical High students moved into the old rickety wooden structure of the former Crew Street Elementary. At this time, the Crew St. school building would easily be over 40 years old and in ill repair.

By 1915, English Commercial High had grown significantly with the consolidation of the business department of Boys High School. The student body total was now over 220 students. Finally, after much delay, the new English Commercial High moved to a rented building at  232 S. Pryor Street (later named Pryor Street) and would go on to acquire abandoned homes on the same strip of Pryor Street to build more classrooms and an auditorium. However, despite the added space English Commercial High would face more overcrowding issues in 1923. By 1947, the school was shut down due to overcrowding and the newly implemented co-educational school system for high schools. High schools would no longer be separated by gender, therefore English Commercial High was now obsolete. What’s more, schools began to incorporate the same business based curriculum along with the traditional curriculum,. Lastly, many parents found the downtown area to far to commute and far too dangerous for students to attend. English Commercial High was ultimately demolished in 1982; the only thing Commercial High alumni were left with were distant memories.

Cooper Street School (1922 – 1973):

Servicing the diverse working-class Mechanicsville neighborhood, Cooper Street School was built to accommodate the overcrowding of the Formwalt school.

Craddock School Artist Rendition

Craddock School (1889 –  August 12, 1982):

The Craddock school was a primarily African-American school dating back to the 1880’s. However, Craddock Elementary was known by another name prior to being renamed in 1954 after Robert Lee Craddock in 1954, after a popular African-American religious and civic leader who resided in the Gray Street community. Upon its opening in 1889, Craddock was originally named Gray Street School, the first all-brick school structure built specifically for African-American’s. Some residents also referred to the school as the Fifth Ward school, which was a popular phenomenon at the time due to the school board naming schools for the wards they resided in. At the time of its opening in 1889, then Superintendant Slaton described Gray Street School as one of the finest schools in Atlanta.

Craddock remained operational until the mid-1970’s when then Superintendent, Alonzo A. Crim discussed closing the Craddock school in 1975 (along with E.R. Carter and  F.L. Slaton schools). The decision was met with anger and protests from local parents, who cited the decision as racially motivated.  The protests worked, as Craddock remained open until February of 1982. By March of 1982, the Board of Education officially shuttered Craddock’s historical doors. Unfortunately, the old Craddock school would burn to the ground one hot summer in August of 1982.


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Crogman School (1923 – 1979):

Located at 1093 West Avenue in the ‘Pittsburgh’ area of Atlanta, GA, the Crogman school began within the Gate City Church until an explosion of enrollment forced the school to find larger accommodations. Local citizens managed to collect over three hundred dollars toward the purchase of land for the building of larger quarters. The new, two-room school would be eventually be built at the corners of Ira and Mary Street. But, it too became too crowded and a newer, larger facility would be purchased off the corner of Windsor and Arthur streets. But, the Crogman school would ultimately move a third and final time after Clark Atlanta University donated land for the construction of a larger school, this time located at the corner of Fletcher and West View Avenue. This would mark the name change for the school from the “Pittsburgh” school to the William H. Crogman, after the first African-American president of Clark Atlanta University, who also happened to live in the Peoplestown area, adjacent to the Pittsburgh area.

In addition to being the first African-American president, of Clark Atlanta University, Dr. Crogman was the first African-American teacher to teach at the Freedman’s Aid Society in South Carolina. He would then travel to Atlanta to earn a degree at Atlanta University. He would later become the first Professor at Atlanta University when it first opened on Whitehall Street. Dr. Crogman passed away in 1931 and would be remembered as a well-respected Professor with an illustrious career.

After years of overcrowding, the Crogman school would ultimately expand in 1950. Tucker & Howell Architects would add an additional 13 classrooms plus a state-of-the-art cafeteria/auditorium to a tune of $209, 968. Unfortunately, due to the drastic decline of enrollment, not to mention deterioration of the original facility, Crogman School was closed in 1979. The Butler Street Y.M.C.A. would go on to lease the Crogman school in 1979 as youth programs facility. After years of being occupied by the Y.M.C.A., the school would ultimately be transformed into loft living spaces which is how the former school is being used today. Luckily, the Crogman school was saved from demolition, a rarity in Atlanta lately.

Davis_Street_School Faculty Members 1903 (AHC)
Davis Street Faculty. In the foreground, a glimpse of the original wooden frame of the Davis Street School. Photo circa 1903.

Davis Street School ( 1887 – 2016):

Built in 1887 on donated land from the city of Atlanta, the Davis school opened with just 6 small rooms. Originally located on the corner of Thurmond and Spencer, the Davis Street School would often appear in the papers as a school with deplorable conditions. The hallways of the school would flood whenever it rained, due to the drafty building, over 90 students were reported ill during a particularly brutal winter in the early 1900’s. The building’s conditions were so rough, that the principal had to wear a rain coat and use and umbrella in her office during rain storms.

Due to the constant rezoning of school districts and the rapidly growing population of Atlanta, the Davis Street School would constantly face issues of overcrowding as would the majority of the first crop of  19th – century Atlanta Public Schools. The school would go on to add additional rooms throughout the early half of the 20th-century, but it would do little to remedy the overcrowding issues. One interesting factoid about the Davis Street School is it being utilized as some sort of guineas pig for the introduction of physical education in public schools. After besting every APS elementary school (white schools) in May Day activities, the Davis Street School was the first of its kind to receive playground material. Swings, balance beams, see-saws, etc., were installed in 1901.

By 1928, talks of converting the school into an African-American elementary school began circulating.  In April of 1928, the Atlanta Board of Education began to discuss and set forth a proposal to abandon attempts to keep Davis Street School as an all-white school due in part to the large settlement of African-American families nearby. By the late 1940’s, Davis Street School (and various previously all-white schools) was in near shambles. The front yard of the school was covered in weeds and trash decorated the front lawn.

Davis Street School Covered in Weeds 1948
Atlanta Daily World newspaper article detailing the poor conditions of Atlanta’s black public schools. Davis Street School’s condition is described above. Circa 1948.


Davis Street School would experience a remarkable renovation over the course of several years; beginning with its name. One year after the death of distinguished philanthropist Mary McLeod Bethune in 1955, Davis Street School was officially renamed as Mary McLeod Bethune School (or Bethune School) in May of 1956. Over the course of 3 decades, the school would have experience expansion projects to accommodate the growing student body. In the year 2000, Bethune Elementary underwent a $10 million dollar renovation project with state-of-the-art computers, software, lighting, etc. Unfortunately, the school is currently slated to shutter it’s doors now that attendance is down. More than likely, it is due to the gentrification of neighboring communities.

Decatur Street School ( February 27, 1872 – ?):

Locating information for the Decatur Street School was absolutely painstaking, and yet after days of research, I could only find the school listed in the  1874 Atlanta City Directory. Subsequent volumes of the Atlanta City Directory do not mention Decatur Street School at all, even as early as the 1880’s. In 1874, Decatur Street School enrolled 226 students, a much smaller student body than the other seven Atlanta Public Schools in 1874.

Further research revealed that in September of 1874, Decatur Street School was reopened as a primary school, with the previous student body being transferred to Ivy and Calhoun Street schools. After this small blurb in the Atlanta Constitution, not much else is mentioned. This is a school I’ll have to revisit.

































  1. “GEORGE ADAIR SCHOOL READY IN 30 DAYS.”. 1912 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jun 02.
  2. Little, Jessie. “Battle Hill School.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 15, 1900. 1,
  3. “HERE IS COMPLETE SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAM FOR CITY.”. 1922 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Mar 16.
  4. “NORMAL SCHOOL OPENS MONDAY.”. 1905 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Aug 20.
  5. William Douglas, Staff Writer. “Memories of Commercial High Grow Dearer and Fonder.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Jan 29, 1984.
  6. “OLD CREW ST. SCHOOL WILL BE USED AGAIN.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jul 31, 1913.
  7. To Start Clearing Slums for Grady Homes Project.” Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003), Jan 14, 1940. 1,
  8. “FIRST PICTURE ENGLISH COMMERCIAL SCHOOL.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 28, 1912.
  9. “CORNERSTONE OF NEW ASHBY STREET SCHOOL LAID WITH THE MASONIC CREEMONIES.”. 1911 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 02.
  10. “SCHOOLS WILL USE OLD HISTORY BOOK.”. 1919 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jun 27.
  11.  “Ashby St. School Re-Named For Late Rev. Carter.”. 1944 Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003), Aug 11.
  12.  Mason, Herman Jr. Black Atlanta in the roaring twenties. Place of publication not identified: Diane Pub Co, 1997.
  14.  “FIRE CUTS SCHOOL ON ASHBY STREET.”. 1926 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Dec 23.
  15.   “FINANCE COMMITTEE-HEARS RITCHIE PLAN.”. 1927 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Feb 15.
  16.  “E. L. Connally Elementary School is Dedicated here.” Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003), May 07, 1976. 3,
  17.  Acheson. “FORMWALT STREET SCHOOL IS GROWING VERY RAPIDLY.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Mar 02, 1897.
  18. Sam Hopkins Constitution, Staff Writer. “Book Closes on Old School.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Aug 13, 1980.
  19. “Formwalt Preservation Sought by Cook, McNeal.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Nov 28, 1943.
  20.   “Davis Street School Abandonment Urged as White Institution.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 11, 1928. 8,
  21. Weaver, C. L. “Hazards and Neglect Handicap to Schools.” Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003), Sep 26, 1948. 1,
  22. BOULEVARD SCHOOL PURCHASE IS VOTED.”. 1922 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), May 31.
  23. “MORRIS BROWN BUYS BOULEVARD SCHOOL.”. 1922 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jul 01.
  25. Hancock, Herman. “Your City Hall.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Mar 21, 1948.
  26. PETER SCOTT Journal, Staff Writer. “Old School Buildings Still House Education.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Jun 24, 1979.
  27. “Crogman School …Closing Marks 69 Years of Service.” Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003), Sep 13, 1979.

Eternally Forgotten Atlanta Public Schools – Pt. 2 – Girls & Boys High

Girls_High_School Undated
Girl High School, downtown Atlanta located on Washington Street. Undated.


In “Eternally Forgotten Atlanta Public Schools – Pt. 1 – Elementary Schools,” I discussed the early history of the Atlanta Public School system, officially opening its doors in 1872. Once it opened, APS had opened 3 elementary schools and two high schools for Caucasian students. Over time, more high schools would open and ultimately boys and girls high schools would go on to be consolidated into one school by the late 1940’s. This post will focus on the very first boys and girls high schools opened 1872.


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Girl’s High School ( Feb. 5, 1872 – 1945?):

Girl’s High School, originally located at 66 Whitehall Street on the corner of Whitehall and Hunter Streets, served as the first and only high school for girls in 1872. Most students who graduated from the first three grammar schools (Ivy Street, Crew Street, and Walker Street) would have enrolled in either Boys or Girls High School. When the school first opened, 171 girls, were enrolled. That number would more than double in later years. At this time, both Boys High and Girls High occupied the same shop building until a permanently constructed schoolhouse was built; the 1878 Atlanta City Directory lists the combined schools as the “Atlanta High School.”  In 1873, Girls High was moved to the John Neal Home (the John Neal Home would be later demolished in 1928 to make way for Atlanta City Hall) as it was still without a permanent home located at the corners of Washington and Mitchell Streets. Finally, in a three-story brick building would be erected behind the John Neal Home in 1888, where Girls High would remain until January 1925. Little did the students of Girls High know, this final move would not be their last.

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Due to robust growth in Atlanta’s population, the city of Atlanta began to expand which brought on a demand for more land. Also, as a result of the booming population, Girls High began to burst at the seams with student enrollment.  Let’s not forget the poor conditions of the school, with it dank, dark and poorly ventilated classrooms Girls High was long overdue for new facilities. Petitions for a larger and more state-of-the-art facility were soon underway. Board of Education President Walter Daley declared in 1912 that the Girls High facility was a “monstrosity,” and “…and embarrassment to the City of Atlanta.”

In 1920, Atlanta’s Major Key deemed the old Girls High building as “unfit,” declaring that a new building is underway with an anticipated opening date of 1922. At an estimated $500,000 (in 1922 of course), the new school promised to afford both students and teachers with every comfort imaginable. Unfortunately, the new school’s grand opening would ultimately be delayed due to funding issues.  Unbeknownst to most, the Boys High School (now known as Grady High) was under construction at the same time a Girls High. Since it would be deemed illegal to borrow funds from the Boys High school construction, further building plans for Girls High would be delayed for another year or so. Delayed twice in 1923, the new Girls High couldn’t fully open its doors until January 5, 1925, with 750 pupils enrolled. Girls High School’s new location would officially be listed as 745 Rosalia Street in the Grant Park area.

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Serving the Atlanta area as the premier school for high school girls, Girls High enjoyed almost thirty years of operation at its new location. Girls High would even become pretty famous in the 1930’s after a visit from then-Presidental hopeful Franklin D. Roosevelt. Students would be able to enjoy classrooms suited for upwards of 35 students, a grand library with 14,000 books, and more importantly, electricity, indoor plumbing, and heating. The typical curriculum at the time consisted of business management, sewing, cooking, home economics, housekeeping, and music.

By 1947, Girls High would no longer exist as the new co-educational community high school program would go into effect. Schools would no longer be separated by gender,  thereby moving the Girls High student body into Boys High. This would lead to the renaming of Boys High as what it is better known as today – Henry W. Grady Highschool. The old Girls High school would later be named as Roosevelt High School. After 75 years, Girls High became a distant memory in the minds of modern Atlantans.


Boys High 1909_AHC
Early location of Boys High School. Circa 1906. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta History Center.


Boys High School (January 1872 – 1947):

Boys High School endured a very unstable past from its inception to the time that it ultimately was converted into a coed facility in the late 1940’s. Before finally settling into a permanent location, Boys High School’s faculty, staff, and students would move a total of eight times by 1924. It’s final chapter, however, became a proud history. I have a personal connection to Boys High that I will discuss later in this post.

Boys High endured a rocky start, similarly to Girls High, as it shared a department store facility with Girls High. Additionally, Boys High was located in the basement of the newly built Girls High, on the corner Washington and Mitchell street before moving into its own building. The first principal of the newly opened Boys High was William F. Slaton (1874 – 1879), who would eventually move on to become the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools in 1879. From the very beginning, Boys High experienced overcrowding and dangerous conditions.


Boys High School_1899 Sanborn Map
1899 Sanborn Fire Map location of Boys High. The school would remain here until a fire gutted the original building in 1923.


Boys High original wooden structure would be deemed too dangerous to remain open, therefore the city of Atlanta decided to build a more modern, fireproof structure for Boys High. In 1894, Boys High would no longer be located at Washington and Mitchell Streets; the new Boys High would now be located at the corner of Courtland and Gilmer streets, replacing the old Toon house. The Toon house belonged to a confederate soldier named Joshua J. Toon, who moved to Atlanta in 1860 and built the home with confederate money (to the tune of $25,000). After Toon’s death in 1893, the city of Atlanta purchased the land to be utilized as the new location for Boys High School. According to monthly reports in the Atlanta Constitution, Boys High pupils were some of the brightest and most talented students in the state of Georgia. Many would go on to become college graduates, influential businessmen, and local elected officials. Perhaps the school’s curriculum reputation is the reasoning behind the ample amount of school applicants it would receive each school terms. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure, the school board grossly underestimated the steady growth of Atlanta Public School enrollment, with the total number of students enrolled reaching 20,000 by 1896, the board quickly realized that Boys High could not enroll each student that applied, due to the limited seating. To remedy the issue, talks of building another school for high school boys began to surface.

Boys High Too Expensive 1904
August 27, 1904, article in the Atlanta Constitution.

In 1908, the local newspaper published an article concerning the poor conditions of the old Boys High School. The old wooden structure was plagued with no fire escapes, rickety framework, dilapidated staircases, poor ventilation,, overcrowded classrooms, and infestation of vermin. By all accounts, the school board was justified in its claims of condemnation of Boys High. Journalist Steven Johnston insisted that the board of education should appropriate more funding to provide more adequate curriculum, safe conditions and competitive pay for faculty. Overall, it appears that Boys High was in need of a more than a facelift; it needed a complete overhaul.

In addition to complaints of overcrowding, the cost of operating Boys High began to cause a stir around the city of Atlanta. In an August 27, 1904, Atlanta Constitution article, the school board complained of the soaring costs to operate Boys High due to its dual programs (business, classical, and technological programs) and overcrowded classrooms. To remedy the issue, in 1909, the technological portion of Boys High moved into the then abandoned Marietta grammar school building, while the traditional college preparatory based Boys High, remained in the same location. By moving the technological portion of Boys High, the board managed to remedy soaring operational costs, but it did little to remedy the overcrowding issues. Several articles pleading and urging the board to appropriate funds for a new building were published from 1911 – 1915. Built for a class size of 200, Boys High was now housing over 400 students by 1911. In 1912, Tech High’s new location within the old, ramshackle Marietta grammar school was literally falling apart as well. With the roof caving in, and the building itself threatening to fall down, many urged the city to provide a new location for Tech High as well.

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By the 1920’s, the cries and demands for a new building for both Tech and Boys High were answered. Construction for the new school began in the Spring of 1923 which a scheduled grand opening in January of 1925. In order to save costs and remedy the overcrowding concerns, the board voted to house both Tech High and Boys High into one building in 1924. Unfortunately, due to a devastating fire, Boys High would once more find itself in makeshift, temporary housing. Boys High moved into the abandoned Walker Street grammar school building until the fall of 1924. After the Fall of 1924, Boys High would move into its final location on Charles Allen Drive and 10th streets. Citing the successes of merged Hoke High and Commercial High School, APS superintendent H.R. Hunter approved the idea to combine both Tech High and Boys High under one roof. Tech High would occupy seven-eighths of the new building Boys High would occupy just under three-fourths of the new building.

The new school building would be able to accommodate up to 1,500 students, with at least 40 classrooms, a stark difference from the original tiny school house. The size of Boys High School wasn’t the only drastic change. In addition to a large facility, the newly consolidated Tech High and Boys High would now be known as Henry W. Grady High School. Former Tech and Boys High students recall the literal white line drawn on the back of the school to separate both schools. While they were friends with one another, that friendship would be tested when both Tech and Boys High would compete in the annual football tournament. The event was said to draw thousands of onlookers

Over the years, Henry W. Grady High School would go through many changes both physically and internally. Several expensive additions were made to Grady High School including a new auditorium and gymnasium in 1937 ($130,000 price tag; utilizing WPA and bond funds) to accommodate a growing student body. Eight years later in 1945, Henry W. Grady would change internally as well, with the abolishment of separate high schools for boys and girl. The Board of Education voted to convert Henry W. Grady High School into a coeducational institution to accommodate 3,000 students at a cost of $650,000. The merger was finalized in the fall of 1948, marking the official closure of Boys High after a successful seventy-six years in operation. Henry W. Grady High School would go on to become the first high school in Atlanta to integrate (August 29, 1961).


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As of 2016, there are a little over 430 alumni remaining. Remaining alumni meet occasionally to reminisce about the olden days before Boys and Tech High became Henry W. Grady High School. Many of the Boys High alumni have gone on to become major movers and shakers of Atlanta and elsewhere. Notable alumni would include S. Truett Cathy, Class of 1939 (Boys High School) Founder of Chik-Fil-A, Eric Roberts (Actor) class of 1974, Yolanda King (daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr), class of 1972, Richard Lenny (CEO of Hershey Corp) class of 1970, and a host of other political and businessmen and women. After the closure of Boys High and merger of Girls High school, Henry W. Grady High would go on to become one of Atlanta’s public school gems. The school would also go on to make history, becoming the first school in Atlanta to desegregate (August 29, 1961). Grady High School is still in operation today as the magnet school for communications.


  1. NEW GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL PROMISED.” 1920.The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Dec 10, 7.
  2. “Girls High Grads Planning 75th, Final Homecoming.” 1947.The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Apr 30, 7.
  6. Acheson. 1897. “THE SUMMERHILL SCHOOL THE OLDEST NEGRO SCHOOL.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Mar 09, 4.
  7. Williams, Donna. 1981. “Residents Find New Home A ‘Capitol’ Idea.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), May 21, 1.
  8. Dooly, Isma. 1915. “Committee of Atlanta Men and Women Find Public Schools are Deplorably Inadequate.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 18, 3.
  9. “BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL CONGRATULATED ON 60TH ANNIVERSARY.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jan 31, 1932.
  10. “TOO EXPENSIVE ARE CLASSICS.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Aug 27, 1904.
  11. “Work Will Begin on Boys’ Senior High School Soon.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 13, 1923.
  13. “NEW HIGH SCHOOLS PLANNED FOR CITY.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 09, 1912.
  14. “Hundreds of Children Will be Turned Away from Public Schools of Atlanta Next Year; City Faces Unprecedented, Critical Situation.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Nov 22, 1914.
  15. “TECH HIGH AND BOYS’ HIGH PLEAD FOR NEW BUILDINGS.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Mar 17, 1912.
  16. “CITY SCHOOL LOTS SOLD TOO CHEAP, COMMISSION TOLD.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Nov 08, 1923.
  17. “TECHNICAL DEPT, GIVEN A SCHOOL.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jul 23, 1909.
  18. Johnston, Steve R., J. T. Wright, and T. D. Longino. “SCHOOL HOUSES ARE CONDEMNED BY COMMITTEE.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 18, 1908.
  19. “$130,000 BUILDING FOR HIGH SCHOOL.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Sep 17, 1937.
  20. Hancock, Herman. “Board Okays 5 Projects for Schools.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Feb 06, 1945.
  21. Goodwin, George. “Boys’ High Memories.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), May 08, 1983.