Booker T. Washington High School
National Register photograph by Yen Tang
The first black public high school built in Atlanta, Booker T.
Washington High School was constructed in the 1920s during the city's
major school building program. It was, and still is, an important
cultural institution in the black community. The school has produced
many outstanding graduates, including Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader; Romae T. Powell, judge;
Dr. Asa Yancy, surgeon; and Dr. Mabel Smith Lott, psychologist.
Because of its quality of education, many students came from out
of town to attend this school. The school opened in 1924, 52 years
after public education started in Atlanta. It remained the only
black high school in the city until 1947. The school was named for
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), a Virginia native who had been
born a slave and became one of the most influential black leaders
and educators in the United States. In 1881 he founded and became
the first principal of Tuskegee Institute.
Booker T. Washington High School is a four-story building of reinforced
concrete with brick veneer walls built in a medieval-eclectic style.
It contains 40 classrooms, administrative suite, library, cafeteria,
and science laboratories in the main block. The elaborate main entrance
contains five arches in two tiers, using terra cotta and Venetian-style
columns. Some original roof tiles and mosaic floors remain, as do
original doors, high ceilings, and radiators. A statue of Booker
T. Washington by Charles Keck was added at the front entrance in
1927. It is a duplicate of the original at Tuskegee Institute in
Alabama. In 1938, six classrooms and a laboratory were added as
a Works Progress Administration project. A major, half million dollar
addition in 1948 filled out the original plan and was designed by
the original architect, Eugene C. Wachendorff.
Booker T. Washington High School is located at 45 Whitehouse
Dr. in Atlanta. It is still used as a high school, and is not generally
open to the public.