High School had occupied the top floors of the Old Market Street
School since 1877. By 1883 that school had become so crowded
that the Market Street School (now called Smith School, grades 1-6),
moved out to the NE corner of Market and 3rd. But growth at
the high school
continued at such a rate that a new high school had to be built.
Space for the new high school already existed on the campus of Leath
School on Linden, near Wellington. Thus, in the fall of 1892,
the new Leath High School opens. The entire
staff from Memphis High School moved to the new school, leaving the
Market Street building vacant. So the
Smith School moved back across the street to their original
building. Now, there was no longer an official "Memphis High
School." And just to complicate things, the Board
of Education, after naming the new high school "Leath High School" insists
on calling it"The Linden School" in their reports.
School grew rapidly and within a couple of years it was was once
again obvious that a new and much larger high school was
needed. The Board of Education began thinking about the lot where the old
Memphis Market was located - on the corner of Poplar and Yates, and
eventually convinced the owners of the lot to donate it to the
school district for the new school. This grand school opened
in 1898 to much fanfare. When the new school opened, the board
decided to resurrect the Memphis High School name, and all
the teachers from Leath High School moved once again to the "new"
Memphis High School.
The Board of
Education then issued a decree that Memphis High School would
be the ONLY high school in Memphis and Leath would no longer
be a high school, so the Leath high school building was demoted to junior high
status and became part of the elementary Leath School. The
rare 1895 photo to the right shows the Leath School with the
Leath High School behind it. >
Leath High School was named for J. T. Leath, president of the
school board in 1869. He was the son of Mrs. Sarah Leath,
founder of Memphis's first orphanage, the Porter-Leath
Orphanage, in 1850.