Leath High School  1892-1898 

The Memphis 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.


Leath High 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.   >

Note:  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.



The newspaper articles below are very interesting and corroborate the facts mentioned above.
Click on the newspaper fragments to read the entire article.

Below:  An 1891 article describes the new Leath H.S.
Below:  An 1894 article about commencement at Leath HS.

Below:  An 1892 article about Leath HS now being completed.
Below:  An 1898 article  stating that Memphis HS will be the ONLY high school and Leath HS reverts to Junior High

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