Class of 1958






America's Most Beautiful High School

In 1924, the city of Little Rock had one high school for white students and one for black students. The school for white students was considerably overcrowded. The city's business and civic leaders saw a need for a much larger facility to handle future enrollment needs. As a result, Little Rock Central High School was built.

Designed as a mix of Art Deco and Collegiate Gothic architecture, the school evoked images of higher seats of learning in Europe - such as Oxford University - or in the United States (Princeton). It was designed to inspire respect for learning. When completed, the American Institute of Architects called it "America's Most Beautiful High School."

Opened in 1927, the school was dedicated as Little Rock Senior High School. It was an imposing structure spanning two city blocks and over 150,000 square feet of floor space. Over 360 million pounds of concrete and 370 tons of steel went into its construction. The school cost $15 million to construct in 1927 and received a great deal of publicity when it opened. An article in the local newspaper, the Arkansas Gazette, noted that there were "hundreds of journalists in our fair city for the dedication."

Little Rock Central High School has its origins in 1869 when Sherman High School opened in a wooden structure at 8th and Sherman Streets in Little Rock. Students first graduated in 1875. In 1885, the school moved to 14th and Scott Streets and was renamed the Scott Street School but was generally called the "City High School." In 1890, the school moved once more to West Capitol and Gaines Streets and was renamed the Peabody High School in honor of George Peabody. Peabody had donated money to southern schools after the Civil War in order to rebuild fractured educational systems. Little Rock received nearly $200,000 of the money from Peabody - the largest sum given to any southern city. In 1905, Peabody High School was abandoned and a new high school, Little Rock Senior High, opened at 14th and Scott Streets. The school remained in that location until 1927 when it moved to its current location anchoring the corner of 14th and Park Streets.

New features of the school in 1927 included 100 classrooms, a fireproof auditorium that seated 2,000 and a 60 x 160 ft. stage that doubled as the gymnasium, and a greenhouse. In 1935, a football stadium was constructed directly behind the school by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) and named "Quigley Field" after Little Rock football coach, Earl Quigley (1914-1935). The new football stadium was the largest in the state of Arkansas, an "ultra-modern" facility that even hosted University of Arkansas football games until War Memorial Stadium was constructed in 1948.

When the school was dedicated in 1927, Little Rock School Board Member, Lillian McDermott, noted that the new building - which would house over 1,800 students - was "a public school were Ambition is fired, where personality is developed, where Opportunity is presented, and where Preparation in the solution of life's problems is begun."

In 1951, a field house was added to the school campus, eliminating the use of the stage as a gymnasium. In 1953, the name of the school was officially changed to Little Rock Central High School to discern the school from a second high school for white students being built in the Pulaski Heights area - Hall High School.