Jerry Summers: City High - Beware

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

With the successor to City High on Third Street, the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS), being told it has to find a site elsewhere, it creates the possibility that it will go the way of the old Central High on Dodds Avenue. Central fell victim to the wrecking ball after the alumni of that school did not vigorously fight to preserve the beautiful Gothic structure, but succumbed to the temptation of having a new school in Harrison on Highway 58. The alumni of Howard High fought to preserve their cherished school and it remains in existence today. 

The three pieces of property belonging to Central are now part of McCallie’s soccer field, Frawley Field on McCallie is now Parkridge Medical Center and the Pounder football practice field is the Orange Grove Center for special people with physical and mental needs.  Erlanger Medical Center, adjacent to the old City High, is the prime potential prospect to expand its facilities.  The Erlanger School of Nursing used the premises for two years in 1983-1985 so Baroness Erlanger Medical Center already has a strong incentive to acquire the real estate.

Chattanooga High School was founded on December 11, 1874, in two upstairs rooms in the Masonic Building at Gillespie and Early Streets which was used until 1891.  From 1891-1896 it was located in Old Academy facility at the same location.  From 1897-1904 the school was in the D.C.

McMillin House at 111 Gilmer Street (8th).  In 1905-1921 it moved into its first legitimate school building, the Dickinson Building at 413 E. 8th Street.  In 1922 Wyatt Hall (Chattanooga High School), the original brick building was completed and named after Professor Henry D. Wyatt, who started the public school system in Chattanooga.  

In 1935 the Works Project Administration (WPA), a program created by the Roosevelt Administration to give people jobs during the Great Depression added two additional wings to the school and the John B. Steele Gymnasium was added in 1955.  For many years the Times Cup and the 9th District Basketball Tournaments were held at City High.

From 1922-1963 the school was called Chattanooga High School (City) and adopted the nickname Dynamos.  In 1963 the school moved to its present location on Dallas Road in North Chattanooga.  The 3rd Street property became Riverside High School in 1963. For 20 years it was a basketball powerhouse in the Volunteer State.

After Erlanger’s Nursing School was located in the school for two years, the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences opened the building until the present date. 

Numerous outstanding graduates have worn the maroon and white school colors:

1.     Charles Coolidge—Medal of Honor recipient

2.     Mike Adams—President of the University of Georgia

3.     Wayne Klough—President of Georgia Tech University

4.     Lee Anderson—publisher and editor of Chattanooga Free Press

5.     William M. Barker—Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court

6.     Bob Corker—United States Senator

Although it is only a building now the graduates of City High still remember it fondly and preserve its memory with well-attended reunions.  They should have strong input on the future of the building before any terminal decision is made on its continued existence or extinction.

* * *

Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com  

City High was once on E. Third Street
City High was once on E. Third Street

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