With the HISD board vote to rename Reagan High School and Lanier Middle School, among others, The Leader recently looked at the background of the names of other Leader schools. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, it seems. Some are named after Texas figures of note, some for esteemed HISD employees and some for Victorian poets. For more information, see http://www.houstonisd.org/Page/32479 where much of this information was found.
BROWNING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Robert Browning Elementary School was built in 1927 and is named for Victorian poet Robert Browning who lived from 1812 to 1889. Known for his marriage and letters with Elizabeth Barrett, more popular than him in his day, Browning is famous for lines like: “Grow old along with me!” (Rabbi Ben Ezra), “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp” and “Less is more” (Andrea Del Sarto), and “God’s in His heaven—All’s right with the world!” (Pippa Passes).
CROCKETT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
It’s Tennessee-born Davy Crockett who gets the nod at Crockett which was constructed in 1912 and replaced with a new building in 1980. The American folk hero and “King of the Wild Frontier” served in the Texas Revolution, and died at the Battle of the Alamo. Wikipedia tells us that while serving in the United States House of Representatives, Crockett became a Freemason. He entrusted his masonic apron to the Weakly Lodge in Tennessee before leaving for Texas, and it still survives today.
DURHAM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
A Houston Heights physician was honored with his named school – Mylie E. Durham Elementary which was dedicated in 1968 six years after his death. A resident of Houston since 1914, Durham founded Durham Clinic, 411 W. 20th, and was a past president of the Harris County Medical Society. He was a member of the American, Southern, and Texas Medical Associations and Southwestern Surgical Congress.
FIELD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
703 East 17th
An American poet and writer has his name on the “pink school on Studewood” which opened in February 1929. Eugene Field lived from 1850 to 1895, and was called the “The Children’s Poet.” Among his creations are “Little Boy Blue” and Wynken, Blynken, and Nod—some of whom are depicted in a mural in the front hall of the school. Interestingly, Field’s father, attorney Roswell Martin Field, was famous for his representation of Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom. Dred Scott v. Sandford is sometimes referred to as “the lawsuit that started the Civil War.”
LOVE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
1120 West 13th
An attorney and first mayor of the Heights, William Graston Love had a distinguished career as a jurist and served on the Board of Regents of the Texas University System. Love Elementary School was named for him after it moved from its original location on North Shepherd to the West 13th location in 1923.
SINCLAIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
A prominent Heights physician, Thomas Albert Sinclair, was one of the founders of Heights Hospital. Sinclair was named for him since the school opened in 1959. Sinclair was born in the Houston Heights in 1922 and attended Reagan High School, where according to his obituary he met his one true love, Lucille Brashear. Dr. Sinclair founded his private practice and practiced medicine at Heights Hospital, a hospital founded by his father, Dr. Thomas A. Sinclair, Sr., where he delivered over 3500 babies during his career. He died in 2011.
STEVENS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
It is HISD’s director of music who had a “magic way with children” who is on the sign at Stevens. Lulu M. Stevens was born on a farm near Mount Vernon, Iowa in 1881 and after graduating from Grinnell College, she attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Miss Stevens came to Houston in 1915 as Assistant Supervisor of Music in HISD. A year later, she became the director. She held the position until the time of her retirement in 1942. Stevens died in 1943 and Stevens Elementary opened in 1952.
TRAVIS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
William Barrett Travis, a former teacher, and struggling newspaper publisher, will forever be remembered for his for his ‘Victory of Death’ letter from the Alamo. Author Steven L. Hardin said that Travis considered disobeying his orders, writing to Governor Henry Smith: “I am willing, nay anxious, to go to the defense of Bexar, but sir, I am unwilling to risk my reputation … by going off into the enemy’s country with such little means, so few men, and with them so badly equipped.” He went of course, where he died with 180 Texans in 1836. The Beauchamp Springs School, built in 1903, was renamed in his memory and enlarged in 1908, 1926, and 1980. The original structure has since been razed.
WAINWRIGHT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
A military veteran of two World Wars, Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright died almost 10 years before the school that bears his name was built in 1962. After his release from a Japanese prison camp in 1945, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and promoted to four-star general. He was assigned as commander of Second Service Command and the Eastern Defense Command at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. In January 1946, he became the commander of the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he retired in August 1947.
BLACK MIDDLE SCHOOL
Frank M. Black started teaching at Houston’s Central High School when he was 23. Later, he was named principal of Travis School and South End Junior High (renamed San Jacinto High School). Black was one of the organizers of Houston Junior College, which is now the University of Houston. Black Middle School was built in 1957.
CLIFTON MIDDLE SCHOOL
6001 Golden Forest
Ruby Sue Clifton was born in 1910 near Crockett, Texas. After a few years of teaching, she began working as a secretary in HISD. She spent 34 years in the Board Services office, retiring as assistant superintendent. Clifton Middle School was built in 1979.
HOGG MIDDLE SCHOOL
James S. Hogg was the first native born governor of Texas. Before his election as governor, Hogg served as the county attorney of Wood County, district attorney for the Old Seventh District, and Texas’ attorney general. He is also known for the unusual name he gave his daughter Ima Hogg, who was known as the “The First Lady of Texas”, for her philanthropy and advancement of the arts.
The Hogg estate donated the land on which Hogg Junior High School was built in 1926.
JOHNSTON MIDDLE SCHOOL – TO BE RENAMED
Albert Sidney Johnston was a West Point graduate who served as a representative of Texas and the Confederacy. He was widely respected by both enlisted men and officers. Johnston was killed during the Battle of Shiloh. The Kentucky native’s body was buried in Texas. Johnston Middle School was built in 1959.
LANIER MIDDLE SCHOOL – TO BE RENAMED
Sidney Lanier was born in Georgia in 1842. He achieved fame as a poet, critic, teacher, lawyer, and musician. His music oriented poetry is characterized by fresh observation, lofty spirit, and sustained rhythms. He served in the Confederate army, worked on a blockade running ship for which he was imprisoned, resulting in his catching tuberculosis. Lanier Junior High opened in 1926.
DAVIS HIGH SCHOOL – TO BE RENAMED
This school was named after Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Davis also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a member of the Senate, and a member of President Franklin Pierce’s cabinet. Davis High School was built in 1926.
JONES HIGH SCHOOL
7414 St Lo Rd
Jesse Holman Jones was born in Tennessee in 1874. He moved to Houston in 1898 to enter the lumber business. Before long, Jones became a civic leader and a founder of the Depression era Reconstruction Finance Corporation. One year after his death in 1956, Jones High School was built in his honor.
REAGAN HIGH SCHOOL – TO BE RENAMED
413 East 13th Street
John H. Reagan served as postmaster general and secretary of the treasury of the Confederacy. He served for 10 years as chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commerce Committee and later was a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. He is best known today for his advocacy of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Reagan High School was built in 1926 and renovated in 2006.
SCARBOROUGH HIGH SCHOOL
4141 Costa Rica
George Cameron Scarborough was born in Frankston, Texas. After moving to Houston, he taught and served as assistant principal of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Thomas Edison Junior High Schools and as principal of Sidney Lanier Middle School. He was named acting superintendent of HISD in 1957 and served as superintendent of Northeast ISD from 1958 to 1965. Scarborough High School was built in 1968. Another school was named for his brother.
WALTRIP HIGH SCHOOL
1900 West 34th
Stephen Pool Waltrip was born in Missouri in 1878 and began teaching school in Texas at the age of 16. In 1910, he moved to Houston, where he served as superintendent of schools in Harrisburg, Gruenen (West End), and the Houston Heights, all of which were later annexed by the City of Houston. He was named principal of John Reagan High School in 1918. Waltrip High School was built in 1959.
WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
119 East 39th
This school, originally named Colored High School and located at 303 West Dallas, was renamed Booker T. Washington Junior–Senior High School in 1927. Booker T. Washington was a famous educator, founder of the Tuskegee Institute, and the author of Up from Slavery. The school opened in 1893, moved to its present location (119 East 39th Street) in 1959, and became a high school in 1978.