No history of
education in Memphis would be complete without a reference to
the old Market Street School.
In 1870, a lot was
purchased at the NW corner of Market and 3rd and the first
"real school" in Memphis was erected at a cost of $80,000.
The 3-storey brick building opened in 1872. On the first
floor were 4 classrooms for the elementary grades. Part
of the 2nd floor was used for the secondary grades.
The 3rd floor was for lecture halls and exhibition space. The basement was
for the 4 furnaces and storage. From the opening date, the
teachers and principals of this historic school read like a
Who's Who of Memphis education - including Tech's own Alice
O'Donnell and Effie E. Wright.
In 1877, the newly created
Memphis High School, consisting of the combined Male High
School and Female High School, joined the high school section
of the Market Street School and moved to the top floor of the
Market Street School building. During this same year, the
Market Street School name was changed to SMITH School in
honor of the first principal. The Memphis High School
would stay at this location
until 1892. Because two schools, with different
names, were in the same building at Market and 3rd, and because the
newspapers frequently referred to both schools as "The High
School" or "The Market Street School", it's really
difficult to sort out the complete, early history of either
To add to this confusion, at one time there were 4 other
schools on Market Street - also referred to as "The Market
Street school". In addition, even though the
Smith School was the new name for Market Street School in
1877, the Memphis directories continued to list it as Market
Street School until 1883. Additional confusion
resulted even from the graduates of Memphis High School at
this time. Because their school is located in the Market
Street building, they often listed their high school as "The
Market Street School". During the period 1877-92, the
two names were almost inter-changeable.
By 1884 the
Memphis High School had grown so rapidly that more space was
desperately needed. To accommodate them, the Smith
School on the lower floors moved across the street to the NE
corner of Market and 3rd. When the Memphis High
School moved to new quarters in 1892 (and was renamed Leath
High School), the Smith School moved back to their old Market Street School building.
In 1920 the Market
Street School (now Smith School) name was changed a second
time to CHRISTINE School for a beloved teacher-principal.
Throughout all these name changes, newspapers and others
continued to refer to the school as "the old Market Street
School". The school was closed and
demolished in 1964.