The fascinating history of Emmett J. Scott High School | News
Released by the City of Tyler on behalf of Emmett J. Scott Reunion:
It is difficult to visualize the beginnings which form the basic framework of Emmett Scott High School.
The high school – the old West End building on South Herndon – was established in 1888, with A.D. Bridge as its first principal. His wife, a former elementary teacher in the schools (who played for all school programs) resided in Galveston.
The West End School was a four-room structure, housing grades 1-10 inclusive. A few years later two rooms were added to relieve crowded classrooms. To further relieve crowed classrooms a three room residence, known as the Northwest school was used.
Grade assignments which meant more than one grade or a grade and a half per teacher, came from P.N. Pennybarker, a scholarly man. During his tenure here, he and his wife compiled our first State history of Texas.
Some time between 1892 & 1896, Mr. Bridge left Tyler and went to South Texas. He was succeeded by W.A. Peete, a graduate of Roger Williams University, Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Peete was a brilliant writer. He edited a column in the Dallas Express under the pseudo-name “Old Hickory” – a column eagerly and closely read by most of his former students. Mr. Peete remained principal rendering valuable service until his health became so impaired that he was forced to give up his work.
J. R. Price, a former principal of the East End School served as principal until the coming of T. J. Austin in 1915 from Holly Springs, Mississippi. Mr. Austin in advance years was still the cultural, Christian gentleman he was when he accepted the position here and was loved and honored for all that he did for the schools during his regime.
During the early years of Mr. Austin’s incumbency – 1921 – the old building burned. School sessions were held in churches in the city – the churches suffering greatly in their physical set-up from scarred benches, broken chairs, and windows, with continual marching in and out into improvised rooms, partitioned off by curtains. The curtains were not high enough to make a complete division and many times apple cores and other missiles went with a hand over the curtains into other rooms to the dismay of the teacher in charge and hailed as a “thrill” by the thrower and his cohorts who knew where such missiles went and from what direction they came.
Rebuilt in 1923, it was renamed Emmett Scott Junior High and the location was changed from Herndon Street – the neighbors protested its rebuilding there – to Border Street. When erected, Scott Jr. High was used for both elementary and high school grades until the erection of W.A. Peete and T. J. Austin elementary schools. The small unit formerly used for elementary grades became Emmett Scott homemaking department.
In 1949, Emmett Scott Senior High School on West Lincoln became a realty, There has been marked progress from the four room structure with its first graduating class in 1894 of four young men. The present structure includes 26 classrooms, an administrative suite, library, cafeteria, shop, auditorium, gymnasium, and band hall.
Emmett Scott High School closed in June 1970 through an integration order.