Market Street School: 1872 - 1964


Rare 1900 photo of Market Street School

From an 1887 3D Map

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 school.  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.


The newspaper articles below are interesting.
Click on the fragments to open the entire article.


Below:  An 1872 article describing the opening of the Market Street School.   It's a very large PDF file, so please be patient while it loads.  Use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.

Below:  An 1872 article describing the new Market Street School building.   It's a large PDF file, so please be patient while it loads.  Use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.


BELOW:  Click on the photo for "The Christine Story", a page about the 80th Anniversary of Market Street School,

The article below is the complete story of the Old Market Street School. 
  It's a very large PDF file.  Please be patient while it loads. 
Use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.




For more archives: and then click on "Ray Holt Memphis School Article Collection".





Book Cover when name was changed to "Christine"
- Thanks Chris Ratliff, Spec Collections, UnivMemphis









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